Estate planning is a very necessary venture when considering the end of one’s life. Beginning to approach the subject of estate planning can be intimidating because there are multiple types of wills and multiple types of trusts.
Thankfully, the Minnesota Attorney General has published a probate and planning guide to help simplify things. It is important to self-educate about the options available.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that allows people to transfer their money, personal property and assets upon passing away.
The law in Minnesota does not require citizens to have a will, but it is a valuable document that guarantees that your possessions will go to the intended recipient or beneficiary. Wills can also include wishes and stipulations that are outside the scope of the disposition of your assets, such as establishing your guardianship preferences for your minor children. Wills are very flexible and can include various actions that are the “will” of the departed.
What is a trust?
Much like a will, a trust is designed to transfer property or money from one person to another — but it does so by putting the assets in the care of a trustee for the benefit of any beneficiaries. Trusts don’t go through probate, either.
Do I need a will if I have a living trust?
A living trust cannot do everything that a will can do. It’s unlikely, for example, for any trust to hold title to your personal items and the heirlooms you want to pass to the next generation. Nor will a trust address other concerns, like guardianship, small bequests and so on.
Ultimately, when you’re putting your estate plans together, there’s no one “package deal” that’s right for everyone. Working with an experienced advocate can help you tailor your plans to your family’s needs.