Tri-Cities Estate & Trust Planning Law Firm

Wills, Trusts, & Estate Plans

You’ve probably heard of each of these terms, but what exactly is the difference between them, and do you need one of each?

A will is a document in which you legally declare your wishes for what happens to your assets after you pass away.

A trust is legal responsibility given to one person to manage assets on the behalf of another person. This is often set up when leaving financial or other assets to minors.

An estate plan is in many ways an umbrella term that includes but is not limited to both wills and trusts. An estate plan usually includes instructions for guardianship of children and healthcare decisions in the event of incapacitation (such as power of attorney and living will preferences).

Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney

No one likes to think about what happens after they die, but having a comprehensive will, trust, and/or estate plan is essential to making sure your wishes are carried out after you’re gone. An estate planning attorney can help you cover all your bases when it comes to your property, investments, and even guardianship of your children—all things you don’t want to leave up in the air.  Your attorney can also help minimize the tax burden of passing your estate onto the next generation.

It can be tempting to save a few dollars by using a do-it-yourself service to prepare your estate planning documents. However, you'll miss out on the years of experience and expertise an estate planning attorney can offer—and you'll run the risk of costly errors and omissions that can leave your assets and your family in legal limbo. 

Common Questions About Estate & Trust Planning

Do I really need to hire an estate planning attorney?

It’s one thing to write out your wishes and stash it away for your family to find one day. It’s quite another to have a legally-binding will, trust, and estate plan that definitively establishes what you want to happen to your possessions and assets once you pass away. An estate planning attorney will make sure that your plan takes everything into account, leaving no room for dispute or misinterpretation after you’re gone. 

What happens if I die without a will?

If a person passes away without a will or estate plan, it is up to the laws of their state to determine what happens to their assets. As with most legal matters, estate laws vary from state to state. Not having a will can complicate and lengthen the process by which your assets are passed down to your next of kin, which is why it’s so important to work with an estate planning attorney to legally establish your wishes.

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Speak With Our Attorneys

Jan R. Armstrong, Arthur D. Klym, and Randy L. Jameson Jr. have decades of experience in estate and trust planning. Ask us anything here or better yet schedule a free consultation!