"Will" - A document by which a person directs the distribution of his or her estate upon death. (Black's Law Dictionary).
Your "estate" is all of the property you own when you die that is not jointly owned with someone else. For example, if you own your home or bank accounts with your spouse and they are still living, then that property will automatically pass to the surviving spouse and will not be part of your estate. In your Will, you give instructions on who will receive any property that you own when you die, after payment of your debts. You also appoint who will be your executor to manage your estate. If you have minor children, you may also state your preferred choice of guardian for those children.
A "trust" is an arrangement where legal ownership of property is transferred to a person (the "trustee"), to be held and managed for the benefit of someone else (the "beneficiary"). A Trust can be a useful way to manage your assets, especially if the benficiary is a minor or a disabled person. Property in the Trust will not need to go through probate, and it is often better protected against creditors. For high-value estates (with assets over $1 million), there are also certain types of trusts that can substantially reduce estate taxes. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. You may not feel wealthy, and yet it would be a great benefit to your heirs if you have a well thought out estate plan. For instance, if you die without a Will, the law makes assumptions about who will receive your property. These assumptions may not be what you want, and could create a hardship for your heirs. I can assist you in analysing the different issues that will arise concerning your property after your death, how to protect your heirs, and how to get your property to your heirs in the most efficient way. We can then prepare the necessary documents to carry out your estate plan.
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