Wills and trusts are both important estate-planning tools that are intended to help you pass along your assets to your loved ones and guarantee that your wishes are followed after you pass away. Both wills and trusts are legally-binding documents and instructions as to the distribution of your estate from everything to taxes, healthcare, annuities, life insurance, 401(k)s and more.
Estate planning is important to ensure all your assets end up where and to whom you intended them. However, there are many areas of estate planning, wills and trusts that are complicated and often confusing, which is why a knowledgeable, experienced accountant is a valuable ally in your estate planning.
At Forensic CPA Group, one of our many services includes estate planning and helping you navigate the process so that your wishes are met. Of these many tools, wills and trusts are among the most crucial. We also understand that many of you reading today are here seeking answers to some burning questions. Today’s post will provide the answers you seek to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about wills and trusts and how they aid your estate planning. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today with specific questions and more personalized answers!
FAQs About Wills
What is the Purpose of a Will?
A will’s legal purpose is to ensure your wishes are met and followed as closely as possible to the given state laws once you pass away. Laws and regulations regarding wills vary from state to state, so it’s important to understand your state’s specific laws and seek guidance from a qualified professional with experience and a firm knowledge of the state mandates. Some people you should consider telling about your will could include:
- The person you choose as the executor of your state
- Next of kin
- Your lawyer
- Close relatives or friends
- Any person responsible for helping manage your assets
When Should I Create a Will?
Although you might think of a will as something you set up in your older years or on your deathbed, it’s never too early to think about creating your will. Many legal professionals would recommend setting up you will now because you can never know for certain when it may be needed. You can always adjust your will as needed over time as your wishes change.
Who Should Help Set Up a Will?
While you can create your own online or other ways, we highly recommend you seek the assistance of an experienced professional like we have here at Forensic CPA Group. There are legal requirements and aspects of inheritance law in every state that can be confusing on your own. You also want to keep the associated costs down when it comes to taxes, probate and other fees, so utilizing a knowledgeable estate planning account and/or lawyer is the best route.
When Do I Need a Will?
A will is beneficial whenever you have assets that you wish to pass on to certain individuals, often loved ones. There is no minimum for creating a will, so you don’t need a certain amount of wealth or assets. Chances are, you have more valuable assets than you realize.
What Should I Consider When Setting Up a Will?
Creating a will is a balance of your wishes and the legal requirements of your state. Inheritance laws vary in every state and a will doesn’t necessarily supersede all of them. You might not be able to leave everything to a friend instead of a spouse or children, for example. Before creating your will, define a clear estate plan and establish your wishes. Consider writing down:
- Who you want to receive special assets (jewelry, keepsakes, etc.)
- Compile a list of your assets (both digital and physical)
- All the heirs you’d like included in your will
FAQS About Trusts
When Do I Need a Trust?
A trust is set up to protect certain assets from creditors or you want some measure of control over how the assets are distributed after you pass away. You can establish a trust with cash for your child and stipulate that the asset can only be used for school, for example.
Who Should Help Create a Trust?
Often times, trusts are more complex than wills. This makes it that much more important to seek the counsel of an experienced accountant and attorney when considering a trust as a part of your estate planning.
When Should I Set Up a Trust?
If you have an asset you want securely held for future use by a beneficiary, then setting up a trust at that time is a good idea. The beneficiary of the trust can even be yourself. Family-owned businesses, for instance, are commonly established in a trust.
What Are the Costs of a Trust?
This completely depends on the complexity of the trusts and sometimes even the amount of value of the assets you are trying to establish in the trust. For a better idea of the costs, meet with an accountant for a free consultation.
What Should I Consider When Creating a Trust?
Just like any piece of estate planning, it’s important that you have a clear outline and idea of your assets and how you’d like them distributed after you’re gone. Trusts can be complicated and still fall under the laws and regulations that vary from state to state. When considering a trust, think about the following things:
- How do you want to fund the trust: cash, investments and even actual property such as homes or cars
- Know what protections the trust provides like limited protection from taxes and creditors
- Determine who you’ll appoint as the trustee to manage the trust
- Who the beneficiaries of the trust will be and what rules are you establishing for use of the assets
Since 2002, Forensic CPA Group has provided expert forensic accounting services to Jacksonville, FL and beyond, relying on our team of experienced professionals to identify problems and provide insightful answers and solutions. We work with you to clearly understand your goals, communicate your options and work to decrease all associated expenses related to the estate-planning process.
Our estate planning services can help you with trusts, living wills and amending your plan as necessary as your desires and wishes alter over time. To schedule a consultation and speak with one of our expert accountants in more detail about your particular needs, contact us today!