San Diego Wills and Trusts Lawyer
Just about everybody leaves behind both property and family when they die. The great majority of us also try to make advance provision for how that property will end up being distributed to the relatives. That’s essentially the idea of an estate plan. The primary tools of an estate plan: trusts and wills.
The terminology used in the field of wills and trusts tends to be arcane because both instruments have even around so long, but the basic concepts are reasonably simple. Both instruments are governed by very technical rules which must be observed in order for the law to enforce them.
In the most basic sense, wills are just written documents in which people describe what they want to have happen to their property—their estate—after they die. Once you die the will is presented to a probate court which will serve as the overseer of the distribution.
Wills describe much of the significant estate property specifically, and leave each item to named individuals. The document should also contain a “residuary clause” which deals with property not specifically named including property acquired after the date of the will, and describes how that property should be distributed.
The will should clearly name someone to serve as the estate’s representative, and it’s a good idea describe the duties that the representative can perform without getting the probate court’s okay.
The beneficiaries—the people who are given property under the will–should be named as clearly as possible to avoid confusion after death. It’s all too easy to describe someone as “my cousin Jackie” at the time the will is created, only to find that there are two or even more people who might meet that description: one female Jackie, one male Jack and one male named John but called Jack.
Since the attorney writing the will necessarily relies largely on the information you give, it’s up to you to both provide the full name and status of each beneficiary, but to remember to periodically review the designations with an eye to spotting ambiguities caused by later events.
The law tends to favor family relationships, so you need to be very careful if you want to disinherit someone like a child. Most states have very specific and strict rules for the language that must be used to accomplish that.
A trust is a legally enforceable contract by which the person creating the trust (the “donor” or “settlor”) passes property to another person or business entity (the “trustee”) who is bound to use that property for the benefit of people or purposes designated by the donor. The directions that the donor gives to the trustee form the bulk of the contract, which is known as the trust agreement.
The names used to describe trusts are numerous and confusing. Sometimes they refer to the some specific aspect of the trust (revocable or irrevocable); other times they refer to the purpose of the trust (generation-skipping transfer trust, spendthrift trust).
The trust most commonly used in trust and estates planning is the living trust, which passes the trust property to the intended recipients without the need to go through probate.
If it’s Technical, Get Help
Wills and trusts can be very simple or very complex, depending on what you want to do and how much property you are passing on. The more complex the task, the more important it is that you obtain the expertise of an attorney who knows the relevant laws and is a good listener. Your attorney needs to understand what you are really trying to do.
At the Boyd Law Firm in San Diego, California, our attorneys work diligently and effectively to provide the will and any trusts you require to accomplish your purposes. We can also help make sure that your beneficiary designations on property like life insurance, annuities, and accounts payable on death are accurate and up to date.
Contact Boyd Law today to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation legal consultation.