Wills and trusts are the essential foundation documents of most estate plans. They operate differently, and while they accomplish some of the same tasks (like passing on your assets to the people you intend to receive them), you may need to have both to accomplish your estate planning goals.
A will, sometimes called a "last will and testament," dictates how property you own will be distributed after your death. You can also use a will to appoint a guardian for your minor children, as well as to appoint someone to manage any assets you might leave your children. Most people also name an executor in the will to carry out the will's provisions under the supervision of the court.
Why do you need a will? First and foremost, so that you can decide how your estate will be distributed. Without a will or other estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to Pennsylvania law. Family members you intended to disinherit may instead inherit; others to whom you wanted to leave money or property may get none, or less than you intended. In addition, if you have minor children, the court may appoint a guardian for them other than the person you would have chosen.
Assets disposed of in a will go through probate, but the probate process will likely be shorter and more efficient if there is a valid will. Having a will also reduces the chances of conflict between your potential heirs about who is entitled to inherit, and how much. In fact, many people cite preserving family harmony as a primary reason for making a will.
Do you need a trust if you have a will? Quite possibly. A common misconception is that only people with large estates and many assets need a trust. In fact, people in all different circumstances can benefit from having a trust. Depending on the type you choose, a trust can accomplish many things that a will cannot. You should consider having a trust as part of your estate plan if you want to:
There are many different types of trusts. Some, called living trusts, operate during your lifetime, and others take effect upon your death. Trusts may be revocable, meaning you can end or change them at will, or they may be irrevocable. We encourage you to contact our law office to discuss your estate planning goals and so we can help you identify the type of trust that will best meet your needs.
Attorney Carlo LaMonica has devoted his entire legal career to helping residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania create customized estate plans using wills and trusts. At LaMonica Law Firm, we understand the importance of your estate plan to your family's future. We are dedicated to taking the time to understand your needs, explain your options, and respond to your concerns. Our goal is to provide you with not just exceptional legal work, but enduring peace of mind.
We have two office locations conveniently located in the Minooka area of Scranton and on Market Street in Kingston. LaMonica Law Firm works with clients throughout NEPA, including Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, Wyoming, and Susquehanna Counties.
Contact us today to get the conversation started. We look forward to working with you.
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