Last Will and Testament
Bauch & Lechtenberg Law Office is committed to honoring your wishes for the disposition of your property, both during life and after death. The traditional method for directing the disposition of your assets is through a Last Will and Testament. This is an important document that states what should be done with your property after your death; it can also create preferences for guardianship and conservatorship of your minor children. Careful attention must be taken in proper drafting of the Last Will and Testament to ensure the correct beneficiaries receive their intended gifts, to provide for any special matters and to mitigate or allocate estate and inheritance taxes.
Trusts are becoming more popular as an estate planning tool, either as an alternative to, or in conjunction with, a Last Will and Testament. With a trust, you transfer property to a trustee who holds, manages and distributes the property according to a trust agreement we prepare. The trust agreement specifies who your trustee is and how distributions will be made, including when, upon what terms, and to whom. Since the trustee technically holds title to the property, instead of you, there is usually no need for probate administration after death.
Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. If you have a revocable trust, you can amend it or completely terminate it if your circumstances change down the road. An irrevocable trust is much more difficult or even impossible to change later, and there are sometimes good reasons for that.
Other Transfer Mechanisms
Besides Wills and Trusts, there are many other ways that property can transfer following a person’s death, including through joint tenancy, termination of a life estate, pay on death (POD), transfer on death (TOD) and beneficiary designation. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney will use the right tools to help you build an effective and cohesive estate plan. You should also review your estate plan periodically to make sure that changing tax or other laws have not altered the intended result.