Wills & Trusts
Estate planning is an important process for families and individuals. Whether your estate is large or small, you should decide how you want your property to be distributed after death. It is also the only way you can ensure that your wishes are carried out. If you die without a will, trust, or other means of property distribution, California law will decide how to distribute your belongings.
Keep in mind that estate planning also addresses your lifetime needs. You can and should have a plan in place should you become unable to manage your assets or make healthcare decisions for yourself.
What is a Will?
Writing a will is one way you can control the distribution of your property and make other decisions after death. A will is a legal document that:
- Names your beneficiaries and explains how your property should be distributed. If you want a specific item to go to your oldest child, include that specific bequest in your will. If you want all of your assets to go to your favorite charity, include those details.
- Makes arrangements for the care of your minor children. No parent likes to think about their children being raised without them, but a will allows you to choose who will be responsible for your child’s care.
- Chooses an executor. An executor is the person who manages your assets, pays any outstanding debts and distributes your property according to the instructions in your will after probate.
A will is only intended to operate upon the writer’s death (also called the testator), which means it can be freely modified, altered or revoked up until that point. However, a person who is mentally incapacitated cannot modify, alter, or revoke his or her will.
A will should not be confused with a trust.
What is a Trust?
A trust is a legal relationship between the trustor/settlor (the person who creates the trust), a trustee (the person who manages the trust) and one or more beneficiaries (who benefit from the trust). Trusts can be created both during and after the settlor’s lifetime. Types of trusts include:
- A living, or revocable, trust is a legal document that administers your assets during your lifetime and then transfers them to named beneficiaries after your death. This type of trust can be changed at any time.
- A testamentary trust is established based on instructions in your will, so it does not go into effect until after your death. It is a way to provide for minor children and others who need someone to manage their assets. Once a testamentary trust goes into effect it becomes irrevocable, meaning it cannot be changed.
- A special needs trust directs a trustee to make discretionary payments to a specified beneficiary who has some type of disability for which he or she receives government benefits. Receiving funds from a non-special needs trust could disqualify the beneficiary from government benefits.
Your Estate Planning Needs
There is no one right way to plan for your and your family’s financial future. Moreover, your needs might change over the course of your lifetime. The experienced attorneys at Randhawa Hundal LLP can help individuals and families in the Roseville and Sacramento areas with all of their estate planning needs. Contact us today for a free consultation.