Everyone has an estate plan. If you do not have a written estate plan for disposition of your assets after your death, the State has a plan for you.
When it comes to estate planning and having your wishes followed, wills and trusts are essential tools. A common misconception is that only the wealthy are concerned with wills and trusts. However, the truth is that estate planning is a necessity for everyone. An estate plan provides the legal mechanism for transferring property upon your death in a manner which recognizes your wishes and the needs of your survivors. For many people, it involves creating a plan which will take care of essential obligations and affairs in case of disability and critical personal medical choices which sometimes must be made towards the end of life. It is a necessity for anyone who wishes to be taken care of according to their preferences, and also ensure that loved ones are cared for once you pass away.
A Will legally defines and declares how you want your property distributed upon your death. A Will does not go into effect until you are deceased. Until that time, so long as you have the capacity to do so, you can revoke or change your Will or after your death, the Will is admitted to probate by the court, and the person you have chosen as your personal representative (or executor) will administer the estate and ultimately distribute the probate assets in accordance with your wishes.
Properly funded trusts are not subject to probate proceedings. They are often preferred for this reason, as well as to facilitate administration during periods of incapacity during your lifetime. They are also useful in avoiding out of state probates if you have out-of-state property, also, a trust largely remains private.
While a trust might be more expense to prepare and fund initially, it can save time and expense in the future if it is properly written and funded.