A Last Will and Testament is Your Key to Proper Estate Planning

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                           A Last Will and Testament is Your Key to Proper Estate Planning
                                                                       By Lorabella



  Many people know that they should develop an estate plan to protect themselves and their property.
Yet many of those same people have not even taken the time to create a last will and testament. If you
need to protect your property from taxes and legal problems with an estate plan it is absolutely
essential to first create a solid last will and testament.

 Without a last will and testament in place the loved ones you leave behind could be left to the mercy of
the state and the court system. As a result the distribution of your estate’s assets could look completely
different from what you actually had in mind. What’s more, your heirs may be forced to pay heavy
taxes on the property they do inherit, and in some cases these taxes could cause serious financial
hardship.

 Having a last will and testament in place as the cornerstone of your estate plan is even more critical if
your legacy includes a business, a large parcel of land or some other valuable asset. There have been
many sad stories of families forced to sell the family business or give up the family farm in order to pay
the taxes due on their family member’s estate. If you do not want your loved ones to suffer the same
fate it is absolutely essential that you create a last will and testament. And it is just as essential that
you use that will as the foundation of a well thought out and well executed estate plan. Creating an
estate plan can significantly lower, or even eliminate, the tax burden your loved ones would otherwise
face, relieving them of added financial pressure during what will already be a very difficult time.

 Unfortunately many people erroneously believe that they do not have a high enough level of personal
assets to justify the creation of either a last will and testament or a formal estate plan. Young workers
may feel that they do not own enough assets to make a will worthwhile, but that is rarely the case.
Even if their level of assets does not necessitate the creation of a formal estate plan it is still important
for every responsible adult to have a last will and testament on file. No matter who we are we all have
people in our lives who depend on us, and having a last will in testament in place just may be the best
way to make sure that they are protected even after you are gone.

 By having a last will and testament in place you can protect your loved ones from the extra burden of a
potential legal battle over your estate. If you have been putting off the creation of your final will and
testament just think for a minute about those you would leave behind and the impact such a protected
battle over your estate would have on them. The family members you leave behind will already be

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dealing with the burden of your death – the last thing they need is an additional battle at their time of
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                            Last Will and Testament: Will-based Vs. Trust-based Estates
                                                   By Bruno Berentsen



The differences between a will-based estate plan and a trust-based estate plan are significant. If you
have an estate planner or an attorney, he will guide you in making your decision as to which one best
meets your needs.

 Understanding the differences between the two is critical in making the proper decision to meet the
needs of your estate plan. The important thing to note is that they both make use of a last will and
testament, perhaps the most essential document that an individual planning the disbursement of his
assets in preparation for his death should have.

Last Will and Testament

 The typical last will and testament is more involved within a will-based estate plan since it contains all
of the specific details regarding the disbursement of the deceased individual’s assets. It will also
contain information on guardians for any minor children. However, the last will and testament found in
the trust-based estate plan is much shorter and less detailed since the information is found in the
revocable living trust.

Will-based Estates Versus Trust-based Estates

 Whether an individual sets up a will-based estate or a trust-based estate is more a matter of personal
preference and a need for a more sophisticated framework. The will-based estate plan incorporates the
following four documents: a last will and testament, a living will, a financial power of attorney, and an
advance medical directive or medical power of attorney. The trust-based estate plan incorporates
these same four facets along with a revocable living trust which contains specific instructions for the
remainder of the individual’s life.

Will-based Estates

 A will-based estate plan is one that typically contains a last will and testament as the primary means of
distributing assets upon the death of the individual whose will it is. It not only includes the name of the
individuals or organizations that will inherit the assets, but it also includes when they will receive them.

 A last will and testament is overseen by the individual’s personal executor or representative. This
individual is chosen by the person whose will it is and the information is included within the document
itself. The powers granted to the personal executor are also listed within the document so there is no
question as to what he should be doing legally.

 The primary purpose of the last will and testament is to distribute the property of the deceased to
designated individuals. It includes the names of all of the beneficiaries along with the specific details of
the property that they will inherit. Any details related to the disposition of the inherited property will also
be included in this document.

Trust-based Estates



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 A trust-based estate plan is one that begins with a revocable living trust along with the four documents
listed above. The assets of the individual are included in the trust while the individual is still alive.

 The last will and testament within a trust-based estate is designed to include any assets that are
inadvertently missed within the trust. The missed assets will then transfer or pour over into the
individual’s trust upon his death during the probate process. This is why the last will and testament
included within a trust-based estate plan is often referred to as a “pour over will.”

 This last will and testament generally includes the name of the personal executor for the estate along
with his specific duties or powers. Typically, he is in charge of taking care of any unfunded assets that
have not been included within the trust.

 Someone referred to as the successor trustee or administrative trustee is chosen by the individual who
is setting up the trust-based estate plan as his personal executor. He is also named within the
documentation along with his specific duties or powers.

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