A trust is a legal contract to manage someone’s assets, before and after death, that is drafted and implemented while the assignee is still living. There are two basic types of trusts:
A Revocable Trust, the assignee reserves the right to modify the trust as long as the assignee is alive.
An Irrevocable Trust cannot be changed once in force, nor can the property assigned to the trust be recovered by the donor.
A testamentary trust becomes valid when the person dies.
A Will is a written document expressing a deceased person's wishes, from naming guardians of minor children to bequeathing objects and cash assets to friends, relatives, or charities. A will becomes active only after one's death.
All Wills must go through a legal process called PROBATE, where an authorized COURT administrator examines them. This process can be lengthy and potentially contentious if family members contest the will.
Yes, you still need a Will.
Joint tenancy means that the surviving tenant owns the property if the other tenant dies, but if there are assets owned outside the joint properties they will not be covered.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a document intended to allow another person, referred to as an attorney-in-fact, to make financial decisions and execute legal documents on your behalf. Typically, the attorney-in-fact acts when the principal is unable to act for one reason or another.
A Health Care Power of Attorney is a document intended to apply in the event that an individual is ever unable to make a health care decision for themselves. In such event, another person, referred to as a surrogate, would be called upon to make health care decisions. The surrogate also has the power to apply for all insurance benefits, both public and private, that are available to an individual.
Commonly referred to as the “pull the plug” document, provides authorization to terminate life-prolonging procedures in the event that an individual is ever diagnosed with a terminal illness and his or her life is being artificially prolonged by a life support system. Even when two doctors agree that an individual is suffering from such a condition, the doctors must still obtain the approval of the health care surrogate before they proceed to discontinue the use of any life support system.
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