A good estate plan is typically built around certain core documents. These documents usually include a Last Will and Testament and often include a Revocable Living Trust.
In the most basic sense, these documents form the playbook for how your assets should be administered in the event of death. The document name beneficiaries describe how the beneficiaries should receive assets and appoint the persons responsible for administration.
Revocable Living Trusts are useful in avoiding probate administration. In most circumstances, we favor the use of Revocable Living Trusts to hold assets that would otherwise be subject to probate administration in the event of death. Revocable Living Trusts are also vital tools in planning for incapacity. An individual (typically referred to as a “grantor”) can hold assets in a Revocable Living Trust for his or her benefit, retaining the right to change the terms of the trust until death. It is common for the grantor to serve as his or her own trustee until death or incapacity, but other trustees may be named. In the event of the grantor’s incapacity, it is relatively easy for a successor trustee to take over administration of the trust for the benefit of the grantor.
Depending on the circumstances, we encourage having additional documentation designed to address incapacity issues. These documents include Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate Designations, Pre-Need Guardian Designations and Living Wills.