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What is Estate Planning?

As you prepare to make sure your loved ones are cared for when you are no longer there to care for them, it is important to consider developing a comprehensive estate plan that is tailored to the unique aspects of your situation. While you may be familiar with wills and how they ensure your property is divided according to your wishes, it is important to make yourself familiar with trusts and how they can protect your property from public scrutiny, probate and taxes.

A trust is a legal entity designed to hold and invest property for the benefit of another. Trusts may be established during your lifetime or after your death as outlined in your will. Some trusts allow you to remain in complete control of your property while others limit your control.

Types of trusts include:

  • Revocable Trusts: A revocable trust allows you to maintain ownership and control over your property. The terms of the trust may be changed by you at any time while you are still mentally competent.
  • Irrevocable Trusts: With an irrevocable trust, you relinquish ownership and control of the property placed in the trust. Once the terms of the trust are in place, you may not change them.
  • Testamentary Trusts: A testamentary trust is established after your death, through a will.
  • A competent estate planning lawyer should be able to help you understand the differences between the various types of trusts available to you, make you aware of the tax consequences of each and assist you in selecting the appropriate vehicle to maximize your estate goals.

    If you own property, if your marital status has changed, if you have children or if you wish to leave an inheritance to a friend or relative it is important to seek the advice of an estate planning lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you understand all the options you have available to you in the estate planning process and help you develop the best plan for your situation and goals (Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in your state).

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