Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning

What is a Will?

You’ve probably heard the term, “will” before, but many people don’t actually know how wills work. A will, or alternatively, a last will and testament, is an instruction sheet that discusses what should happen with a person’s dependent children and property after he/she dies.

A will allows you to:

  • Select who will care for your children and their property
  • Provide for pets
  • Select who will receive what property
  • Choose how taxes and debts are paid

Do I Need a Will?

In the absence of a will, Kansas state law determines who will care for your children and who will inherit your property. For some, this is sufficient. However, if you would like to include any specifics about who should inherit what, or designate a particular family member as the caretaker for your children it is important to write a will.

A will is also important in designating someone to settle your affairs and ensure that your will is carried out as it was intended.

What Happens if I Don’t Have a Will?

If you have minor children, a judge determines who will care for them. In many cases the judge’s determination is the preferred choice anyway, however in some cases this determination may not be ideal.

Additionally, if you have more than one child, you may want to specify how your assets will be divided between them. Failure to do this can cause disputes between family members as your beneficiaries cope with losing a loved one while also dealing with that loved one’s material possessions.

How Can I Get a Will?

Although wills do not have to be prepared by a lawyer, hiring a Kansas lawyer can help you navigate the legal obstacles that may present themselves. With a wealth of experience in this area, [ocb_company] can make sure that you’re including everything that you need to to ensure that your will is carried out smoothly.

Why Would You Need a Trust?

A trust provides additional flexibility that can supplement or even replace wills. One of its main distinguishing factors is its ability to reduce the tax burden that an estate is subject to before being inherited by its heirs.

Additionally, a trust provides greater flexibility in stipulating how the inheritance can be used by its heirs, and the timing of distributions of that inheritance. For example, trusts can be used to ensure that a child with special needs is taken care of with regular distributions from the trust that are managed by a trustee.

Types of Trusts

There are two main types of trusts: living trusts and testamentary trusts.

Living Trusts

Like its name suggests, a living trust is created during the life of the grantor. However, it can be structured to continue after the death of the grantor.

A revocable living trust can be used to avoid the time and cost of the probate process and can be revoked by the grantor at any time.

An irrevocable trust leaves the grantor’s control upon creation of the trust and cannot be changed by the grantor after creation. However, irrevocable trusts usually have more tax advantages than revocable trusts.

Testamentary Trusts

Testamentary trusts are created after the death of the grantor. Unlike living trusts, a testamentary trust does not avoid the probate process.

How to Create a Trust

A trust is created when the property owner, or grantor, transfers ownership of that property to a trustee, who can be either a person or an institution. The trustee then manages the property of the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries of that trust, and is legally obligated to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. The trustee is often compensated for managing the trust