Wills and Estates

Estate terms to know

When you begin the estate planning process, you’re likely to come across some unfamiliar terms. The following list isn’t a complete glossary, but it will give you a good understanding of the most common terms.

  • Estate: Everything you own. This includes your home, business, vehicles, and jewelry, but also takes smaller items into account.

  • Estate planning: The process of making arrangements for your estate if you die or become incapacitated. Living wills, last wills, and trusts may all be part of your estate plan. An estate attorney can assist in the planning.

  • Wills: There are two types of wills. Last wills give instructions for your estate after your death. A living will outlines your wishes for medical care if you become unable to make decisions. A wills lawyer can help you draw up either will.

  • Trusts: Trusts can take several different forms. Most people use trusts to minimize estate taxes and avoid probate. A trust is often similar to a will in that it gives instructions for the care of your belongings, but a trust can go into effect while you are still alive. 

  • Probate: The process of validating a last will. The person you appoint as the will’s executor is responsible for making sure that your wishes are carried out. The executor may have to gather documentation proving the value of your estate. A probate lawyer is helpful in this process.

  • What is an estate plan?

Your estate plan should be as complete as possible. Three things to make sure you address are end of life care, inheritances, and life insurance.

  • End of life care: Arrangements for end of life care should be included in your estate plan. Having a living will is essential for this. You may also want to talk to local funeral homes and crematoriums so you can make arrangements for your remains.

  • Inheritance: Carefully consider who you would like to have inherit your possessions, and make sure to follow state law when doing so. Each state has its own unique laws on estate planning. If you do not complete all the necessary paperwork, your property may go to places other than where you intended.

  • Life insurance: Having insurance may help your heirs cover the estate tax if it is a factor. Otherwise, it will help to pay off your final debts and may provide a financial cushion for your loved ones.

When to hire an estate planning lawyer

You may be able to take care of estate planning without the help of a legal professional. There are even online legal documents that a court may find acceptable.

However, you should at least talk to an estate attorney about your plan. Lawyers are familiar with local regulations. They can look over your documents to make sure that you haven’t missed any important details.

Hiring a lawyer is particularly important if you wish to set up a trust. Because there are so many different types of trusts, you will need guidance on which type is the most appropriate for your situation. A lawyer can also advise you on how to change the terms of a trust or a will if it becomes necessary.

The Law Office of Riley and Riley

When going through the grief of losing a loved one, the last things you need are legal headaches concerning the settling of their finances. Here at Riley & Riley, our family of lawyers helps you cope with your loss while ensuring that your loved one’s final wishes are fulfilled. We handle all matters of litigation concerning estates, including fights among heirs, claims by and against creditors, and challenges to wills. We also handle routine administration of estates and draft all kinds of wills and trusts so that you can focus on and protect your family before and after a death. Call now.
some info sourced from: Avvo