Will or Trust…We can help you decide!

There are three important questions you should ask yourself when trying to decide what type of estate plan is best for you…

1) What do you own?

Determining what assets you own is the first step to deciding whether a will or trust would be more beneficial for your future estate planning. Take the time to think of all the things you own (house, business, stocks, bonds, CDs, IRAs, real property, bank accounts, etc.) and also learn how they are owned if you do not already know. Are these assets jointly owned with a spouse or other person? Does the asset have a beneficiary designation? Based on how your assets are owned, a will may be all that is necessary to ensure your property properly passes to those intended beneficiaries.

2) Who do you want to own your property after your death?

Do you want your spouse, children, parents, or friends to receive property that you own after you die? No matter who you choose, the bottom line is that by having a will or trust, you are deciding who receives your property after you pass away. Without a valid estate plan, the law decides who receives your assets and that may or may not coincide with your intentions.

This is especially important for blended families. Without a will or trust that expresses your distinct wishes, if you have children outside of your current marriage, your surviving spouse would only be legally entitled to half of your assets and your children would be entitled to the other half. Many spouses these days are surprised to learn that half of the assets they thought they shared no longer belong to them because they were legally owned by their deceased spouse, this includes their homestead.

3) How much control do you want to have?

Do you trust your beneficiaries to properly handle the assets you wish to distribute to them by your will? A will often directs that beneficiaries receive the asset upon death. A trust has the flexibility to allow for conditions to attach to the distribution. If you have minor children, a trust of some sort may be necessary so that the property is managed properly until your children reach an age you feel they can handle their own finances (often times this goes above the age of majority, which is 18 in Florida).

Another important consideration is for children or grandchildren with special needs.  If you have a family member that receives governmental benefits, such as SSI, because of their disability, leaving them assets by will or intestacy (because you do not have estate planning in place) may cause them to lose their benefits.  Proper trust planning can avoid this costly mistake.

Answering these three important questions can assist our office with helping you decide which estate planning tool is right for you.

Thinking about preparing or updating your estate plan? Have you answered these three important questions? Call our office at (352) 432-1618 for a free initial consultation to discuss your options with a qualified estate planning attorney.