chapter 3


Although you may choose to create both a Will and a Trust and this is especially the case if you have a sizable estate it's recommended that every American has a Last Will and Testament. That's because a Will does some unique things that a Trust simply cannot do. We'll start with the most important point:

1. Guardianship

If you're a parent, this is probably the biggest reason you'll want to create a Will: it's the best way you can make sure your children are taken care of.

Simply put, a Will allows you to name a guardian for your minor children. If you pass away before they're legally adults, a Will lets you decide who's going to look after your children when you're gone. Obviously, that's important. The laws that govern what happens if you die without a Will generally dictate your child will go to your spouse or your closest relative, such as a sibling or parent. For some of us, this is not the outcome we want. Choosing a guardian and setting it out legally makes sure your wishes are respected.

2. Assets

A Last Will and Testament is by far the simplest way to leave important assets to your heirs. If you create a Will online, all you'll need to do is make sure you describe which heir gets which property, then describe that property so the courts and your executor understand. In other words, if you're passing down a car to a grandchild, make sure you at least note the make and model of the car, and, of course, which grandchild gets to park it in their garage.

Last Wills and Testaments let you distribute bank accounts, heirlooms, money and more. A Living Trust, on the other hand, requires that you transfer ownership of these items into a Trust, which will distribute them after you've passed away. It's an extra step that can sometimes be a hassle, especially if it's an asset you may need access to, like a checking account or your primary residence.


3. Real Property

"Real property" refers to homes and buildings as opposed to just stuff. Transferring this kind of property is definitely more time consuming than simply leaving a cherished item for a friend, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. It's just very important you speak to a knowledgeable attorney before you include a home or other so-called "real property" in your Last Will and Testament or Trust. They may actually suggest creating a Trust, depending on your situation.

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