When you start getting older, estate planning might be a topic you think of more frequently. After all, you never know how many days you have left to live, and taking the right steps to protect your assets and your family is probably important to you. As you are thinking about this, you might wonder if having a last will and testament is enough for you. If this is all you have, it is better than nothing, but it is important to know that this is generally not enough.
What is a last will and testament?
When a person dies, the family generally goes looking for the person's last will and testament, as this is the document that often contains instructions for dividing up this person's things. This document generally contains a lot of useful information, such as who the person names as beneficiaries and what assets each person receives. This document might also list someone as the executor, which is the person that is responsible for making sure the instructions of the will are carried out.
Is this document enough?
While a will is a vital document to have after a person dies, it is not always enough. A will might not contain every single asset or instruction the deceased individual has or wanted to offer. It also does not allow for any property titles to transfer automatically to a person. Because there are limits to what a will can do, it is important to have other types of estate planning tools in place.
What is another type of tool that you should have?
A will is important, but it is also important to set up a trust of some kind, and there are different types to choose from. When you have a trust in place, your family will benefit in several ways. First of all, a trust makes transferring the possession of assets from you to your loved ones a lot easier. It basically simplifies the legalities in asset transfers. Secondly, having a trust may also help protect your family from paying hefty estate taxes. Finally, a trust can help eliminate the need to go through probate court for the settlement of the estate.
If you feel like your will is not up to date or if a will is not enough for you, you should consider meeting with an estate planning attorney to determine what other tools you should use for your estate planning.