What is a will?
A will is a legal document that states your final wishes, including who you’d like to receive your money and property, the identity of your executor, guardians for your children, and how your debts and taxes should be paid. After your death, your will is read by a county court, which ensures these wishes are carried out.
What is a living trust?
A living trust, sometimes called a revocable trust, is a legal document that places your assets into a trust for your benefit while you are alive and then transfers them to designated beneficiaries at your death. Because it allows you to avoid probate (see below) at the time of your death, it can speed up the process of distribution and save money.
What is estate planning?
Your estate consists of everything you own, including your car, home, money, insurance, and personal possessions. Estate planning is the process of making sure your money and property is distributed as you choose at the lowest cost in taxes, legal fees and court costs to your heirs. Estate planning can also encompass many other important steps such as naming a guardian for your minor children, providing for loved ones who may need guardianship or conservatorship, and transferring your business at retirement or death.
What is probate?
Probate is a legal process that happens after your death, whereby your will is validated, your property is inventoried and appraised, your debts and taxes are paid, and the assets that remain are distributed per the instructions of your will.