Many people in West Virginia (WV) and nationwide believe that having a simple will is all that is needed to prepare their estate. However, a simple will may not adequately cover the passing of all property and financial accounts to your heirs. You will want to work with a trust lawyer in WV to ensure you have a complete estate plan that includes not only a will but also any trust or other documents you need to effectuate your wishes.
Working with Your Trust Lawyer in WV
What Is a Trust?
Here's how a trust works, in its most basic form: You create a trust by working with an experienced trust lawyer in WV (or the state in which you live). The first step is to identify your goals and the parties to the trust. As the person creating the trust, you are the trustee, often known as a "grantor" in WV. At this stage, you will also determine for whose benefit the trust will operate. This person (or organization) is known as the beneficiary, and although it may seem counterintuitive, you may be the beneficiary of the trust. Finally, you'll need to designate someone who will manage the trust property, known as a trustee.
Next, you place property you own into the trust by giving legal title to the trustee. The trustee has a duty to manage the trust property with the utmost care.
Trust documents can be valuable estate planning tools because they can eliminate or minimize the need for West Virginia probate court involvement in your estate after you die. When you are working with your trust lawyer in WV, you will learn what trust documents will be necessary to complete your estate plan and ensure that your desires for your property distribution are met.
What Type of Trust Documents Do You Need?
Your trust lawyer in WV will work with you and ask several questions about you, your family, your heirs, your desired trust beneficiaries, the property you have to transfer, and your desires for the distribution of your property. An experienced WV trust lawyer will use this information to determine the documents you need for a complete estate plan.
Different types of trust documents that might be required to achieve your goals. The documents that are needed depend on your situation and goals.
Examples of Trust Documents
Some examples of the types of trust documents you and your WV wills and trusts lawyer may want to discuss include these:
- Revocable Trust
A revocable trust is a trust that is provides flexibility to you, the grantor. It gives you the ability to move property in and out of the trust while you are alive. After you die, the revocable trust usually becomes irrevocable and the assets in the trust pass to the beneficiaries of the trust as you designated.
An irrevocable trust is a trust document that is more difficult to change after it is executed, although an experienced trust attorney can provide advice on this issue. After assets are moved into an irrevocable trust, the trust cannot be changed or revoked unless certain legal standards are met. These include changing the trust by agreement or court order, as well as frustration of the purpose of the trust.
- Charitable Trust
A charitable trust allows you to give money or property to a charity after you die. This type of trust can be used to lessen the tax liability of your estate, or it can simply give you the opportunity to contribute to an organization or cause that is meaningful to you.
- Special Needs Trust
A special needs trust is a very specific kind of trust that may be used to benefit people with special needs who receive Social Security benefits. An inheritance can hinder a person receiving government benefits such as Social Security payments or Medicaid. A special needs trust helps protect those government benefits while allowing the beneficiary his or her inheritance.
A gun trust ensures that any firearm regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA) is transferred to your desired heir without WV probate court involvement. This trust document is very specific in the rules and laws that must be followed for it to be a valid document. Working with your trust lawyer in WV will ensure this is done correctly so there are no issues with property transfer of these particular firearms.
Work with an Experienced Trust Lawyer in WV to Complete Your Estate Plan
The types of trust documents you need depend on your goals for your estate and desires for your beneficiaries. Make sure your estate plan includes all trust documents required for a smooth transition of property to your heirs.
States laws vary, so it's important to work with a licensed attorney with estate planning experience where you live. If you would like to discuss your options and develop a comprehensive estate plan with a trust lawyer in WV, contact me, Anna M. Price, at Jenkins Fenstermaker. You may call me toll-free at 866.617.4736 or complete our firm's contact form. I'll work with you to determine the necessary trusts to carry out your comprehensive estate plan.