ESTATE PLANNING

Estate Planning to Carry Out Your Goals

Do you have an estate plan? You may be surprised to know that the truth is, everyone has an estate plan. Whether they realize it or not, the estate of every person will follow a plan after death. It’s up to you to determine if it’s your plan, or by operation of law. 

For estates large and small, for those who have drafted a plan themselves or not, decisions will be made about what is left behind. Many people make those decisions themselves and leave a will or trust for loved ones to follow. For others who do not create a personal, memorialized plan, the laws of Arkansas will make those decisions for you. Therefore, the real question becomes—does your estate plan accomplish your individual goals?

Whether your estate plan consists of a simple will or a complex combination of estate documents, it deals with the most important issues in your life—your health and your family. Our Estate Planning Attorneys in Little Rock, AR carefully attend to the unique needs presented by each client’s life, family, and finances, and we devise a plan that is tailored to meet your wishes. Don’t let the fate of your estate be decided by default.  Contact us today to learn more about how you can protect your family’s future.

The Importance Of Wills And Trusts

Wills and trusts are tools used in estate planning to help accomplish the creator’s goals and objectives. At the very least, a will should be crafted ahead of time. A well-devised will can ensure that the wishes of the testator are carried out according to the specifications they laid out in the document. The testator is the person who creates a will. A trust, on the other hand, can protect and manage the assets that are valuable to the settlor while they are alive and long after they are gone. The settlor is the equivalent of a testator. A settlor is the term used for a person who creates a trust. Trusts can also be used to take advantage of certain benefits for both the settlor while alive and those who will inherit the assets in the trust after the settlor has passed away. You or someone in whom you have confidence manages the property, usually for the benefit of you or your family.

Ensuring that the needs and wishes of a person are enacted after death requires thorough estate planning. It is advised to enlist the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney in Little Rock, AR who has in-depth knowledge and expertise with wills and trusts.

Wills

A will is a document that is also known as a last will and testament. It goes into effect after its creator or the testator passes away. A will can detail a person’s wishes in regard to the distribution of their property and assets. It can also specify who can take care of the testator’s minor children if he or she is a parent and dies while the children are young. Without a will in place, a person’s wishes may not be honored. Your estate is considered an intestate estate, and Arkansas law then dictates how your assets are dispersed. In these cases, the probate process often becomes more costly, lengthy and burdensome for the estate administrator, who is often selected by the court.

A will can decrease the possibility of conflict and may be simple or detailed. Often a will can be used to create a testamentary trust. If there are minor children, a will should specify the parents’ selection of a guardian if one is needed. While the guardianship designation is not binding, a judge will likely take the parents’ wishes into careful consideration if the need arises.

In order for a will to be effective and recognized by the probate court, it must be valid. An estate planning attorney in Little Rock, AR can ensure that a will is created and prepared correctly.

Trusts

In addition to a will, a trust is a great legal instrument to include in an estate plan. Trusts are vehicles that allow the creator of the trust or settlor to hold and manage assets in a fund. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the creation of a trust, the assets can be held for a beneficiary or the settlor’s benefit. Further, there are various types of trusts:

Living trust

Revocable trust

Irrevocable trust

Special needs trust

Generation-skipping trust

A living trust, also known as an inter vivos trust– allows you to put your assets in a trust while you’re still alive. If your living trust is revocable, as almost all are, it gives you great flexibility. Some advantages of a living trust are that it provides a way to care for you and your property if you become disabled, and it allows you to pass assets after your death without having to file documents that are public record. 

Each kind of trust serves a distinct purpose and may be either revocable or irrevocable. It is recommended to talk to an estate attorney to determine the best trust options.

Trusts are mainly used for wealth management and control, asset protection, and to avoid probate. Since trusts do not have to go through probate, beneficiaries can gain control of assets much quicker and save money on court fees, potential taxes, and the probate process.