There are plenty of essential things that a last will and testament can do for you, like distribute family heirlooms and name a guardian for your minor children, but there are some equally important things that a will won’t do. For instance:
1. Reduce estate taxes – a will does not decrease your estate taxes, but certain kinds of trusts do just that. An experienced estate planning lawyer can advise you on what kind of trust instruments can accomplish this in your situation.
2. Provide ongoing care – if you want to provide for someone with special needs or a person with ongoing care needs, you will need to establish a trust (which is often funded by a life insurance policy).
3. Distribute certain types of property – to distribute assets from a retirement or investment account or the proceeds of a life insurance policy, you must execute the proper beneficiary designation forms, which trump the instructions left in your will. If you own property jointly with someone else, your will won’t allow you to distribute that property, as it will automatically pass to the other joint tenant(s).
4. Provide for pets – since pets cannot legally own property, you will need to make provisions for your pet’s care in your trust by designating a caretaker and providing funds for the care of your pet after you are gone.
5. Allow for the management of inheritance – the property you leave in your will is given with no strings attached, which means that you don’t get to say how money or property is used, even if you would like to. Sometimes it isn’t good for certain family members to get a large amount of cash at once, like adult children with substance abuse or creditor issues, or family members who may be facing a divorce.
If you’d like to learn more about wills, trusts, health care directives, powers of attorney, or any other aspect of estate planning, call our office at (612) 206-3701 or fill out our contact form today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.
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