Ever since Brian and I got married, I have thought about making a will. We had already contacted people for our “Financial Planning,” but had not determined what we should do for our “Estate Planning.”
Since Sam’s birth, planning our estate has been on my mind more often. I definitely don’t want the courts to determine what happens to my assets after I’m gone. I talked to a few people about attorney’s fees to set up a will. The prices in Denver varied between $500-$750. That just seems crazy to me for a single document.
After doing some research, and speaking with some people, LegalZoom.com might be a good choice for us. I had heard about LegalZoom.com a few years ago and had questioned the legality of their service, but the people that I know that had gone through their service, seemed very happy. It just seemed too easy and too cheap to be sound.
It seems that there are several options regarding estate planning. There is always the standard “Last Will & Testament,” but there is also a “Living Trust” that might be a good option to go along with the will.
The differences between a Living Will and a Last Will & Testament
• A Living Trust is designed to control who receives your assets after you die—but with one important difference. The property you place in a trust is not subject to the delays and expense of probate court. Instead, it passes directly to your designated beneficiaries.
• Living Trusts also offer the added benefit of privacy. Because you are not required to register your Living Trust with the courts, the details of your estate remain off the public record.
• Setting up a Living Trust may also help reduce your estate taxes so more of your property goes to your heirs.
• With a Living Trust, you have the option to assign a trusted person to manage your property should you become incapacitated.
• Because the trust is a legal entity, the trust—and not you—legally owns your property once it is transferred into the trust. But as the trust’s “grantor,” you can also designate yourself as the trust’s initial “trustee,” which means you retain complete control over the assets placed in the trust. You can move property in or out of the trust, change your beneficiaries, or sell assets as you see fit.
• Like a Living Trust, a Last Will and Testament allows you to decide who receives your property and who manages your estate—with one important distinction. A Last Will also allows you to name guardians for any minor children.
Before we make any decisions, we are going to do more research on these options to determine which is best for us.
I know that this isn't the most favorite thing to think about (our own demise), but not having a directive would be a lot worse.