Estate Planning

Wills

A will is a legal document that directs how you would like your assets distributed after death. It can be changed at any time during your life. A will gives you and your family peace of mind and is a necessary part of every estate plan. The probate process can be long and difficult; a will shortens the probate process and minimizes any associated taxes or fees. Consider a will if you have any of the following:

  • minor children,
  • a trust,
  • specific gifts of property or possessions.

Trusts

Trusts are another way to arrange the assets in your estate. Trusts do not pass through probate which allows beneficiaries access to the assets more quickly than if they passed through a will. Trusts allow more customization and flexibility than a will alone. Trusts provide tax benefits. Consider a trust if you have any of the following:

  • life insurance, IRAs, 401k, any account with minor children listed as beneficiaries,
  • children with special needs,
  • an estate worth over 5 million (if single) and 10 million (if married),
  • property (such as a house, land, condos, etc.),
  • property in multiple states,
  • intent to leave money to a favorite charity,
  • desire to build a legacy,
  • a favorite animal to provide for after your death.

Probate

Probate is the process of settling a deceased person’s estate. This includes collecting and inventorying property, paying any existing debts or taxes, validating a will if applicable, and distributing property to beneficiaries or heirs. Historically, probate was a long and complicated process, often costing a large portion of the deceased’s estate. Wightman Legal will educate and empower you through the probate process and help minimize the time and costs.