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Wills & Trust

A will is a document that expresses your last wishes, including how you wish for your estate to be distributed and divided, and who will manage those affairs. An effective will can be beneficial for your loved ones at a difficult time, as it provides certainty about your wishes, hopes, fears and values.

A trust is a legal set of rules that tell how your assets are to be administered for your benefit during your lifetime and transferred to your beneficiaries when you die—all without the need for court involvement.

There are many types of trusts. Having a trust does not necessarily remove all need for a will. Generally, you would still need a will—known as a pour over will—to cover any assets that have not been transferred to the trust.

Stellpflug Law, S.C. recommends that you have one of our qualified estate planning attorneys draft your will and/or trust. Our attorneys will make a determination, based on careful analysis of your situation, as to what provisions should be in your will and/or trust, and if you need more advanced estate planning.

Click here for the Estate Planning Worksheet PDF

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a will?
A will is a traditional legal document which:

  • Names individuals (or charitable organizations) who will receive your assets after your death, either by an outright gift or in a trust.
  • Nominates an executor who will be appointed and supervised by the probate court to manage your estate; pay your debts, expenses and taxes; and distribute your estate according to the instructions in your will.
  • Nominates guardians for your minor children.
Most assets in your name alone at your death will be subject to your will. Some exceptions include securities accounts and bank accounts that have designated beneficiaries, life insurance policies, IRAs and other tax-deferred retirement plans, and some annuities. Such assets would pass directly to the beneficiaries and would not be included in your will.

What is a living trust?
A living trust can be used to hold legal title to your assets and provide a mechanism to manage them. You, and your spouse, are the trustee(s) and beneficiaries of your trust during your lifetime. You also designate successor trustees to carry out your instructions as you have provided in case of death or incapacity. Unlike a will, a trust usually becomes effective immediately after incapacity or death. Your living trust is "revocable" which allows you to make changes and even terminate it. One of the advantages of a living trust is the fact that it will avoid probate and minimize the expenses and delays associated with settlement of your estate.

Who should be my executor or trustee?
That is your decision. You could name your spouse or domestic partner as your executor or trustee. You might choose an adult child, another relative, a family friend, a business associate or a professional fiduciary such as a bank. Your executor or trustee does not need any special training. What is most important is that your chosen executor or trustee is organized, prudent, responsible and honest.

How often should I review my will?
Your will should be reviewed every three to five years to ensure it still reflects your wishes. A will only controls your affairs after you die. When your will is drafted, powers of attorney should also be drafted both for your financial and health care affairs in case you become disabled or incapacitated. You should also have a living will to make your end-of-life health care decisions known.

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