Wills & Trusts
Billings Wills and Trusts Attorneys
Legal Assistance in Montana
Creating a will and/or establishing a trust ensures your family, loved ones, and charitable entities are provided for after you pass away. Without a plan, your estate is subject to intestate succession, which means you will have no say in how your assets are ultimately distributed. Taking the time to implement a will and/or trust reduces the odds that the people you care about most will have to deal with delays, disputes, and unnecessary expenses once you are gone.
Our Billings wills and trusts lawyers have years of legal experience and are ready to help you build a comprehensive estate plan. We can review your unique needs and advise whether a will, a trust, or a combination of both will be necessary to protect your interests. Our team at Dietrich & Associates, P.C. will work closely with you throughout the planning process and provide the tailored guidance you need to obtain peace of mind. We can also help you take steps to avoid and, if necessary, litigate will and trust contests.
What Is a Will?
A will is a legal document that details how your assets and properties will be divided upon your death. It defines the testator’s family life station, and the document also names an executor or executrix to oversee your estate once you are gone.
In your will, you must designate how your assets and property should be divided amongst your heirs. You can name family members, loved ones, friends, and organizations you wish to provide charitable donations to. If you have minor children, you can also appoint a preferred guardian to care for them.
A living will is a separate document that specifies how an individual would like to be cared for at the end of their life. Both your will and living will are crucial documents that can be used to clarify your final wishes.
What Is a Trust?
A trust can do many of the same things a will does, but it also appoints a person or entity to hold title to your property while you are living. This “trustee” oversees property placed in the trust in accordance with the trust’s instructions. Trusts can help you avoid legal problems after your death, and these tools can be used to avoid or minimize the impact of probate.
Establishing a trust is not necessarily difficult, but it can be complex. Our Billings wills and trusts attorneys can evaluate your goals and walk you through your options.
Should I Create a Will, a Trust, or Both?
Though both wills and trusts can facilitate asset distribution, each document has its own features, advantages, and disadvantages. Every adult should have a will, no matter their age or health status. A trust may be useful if you have an especially large estate or if you are worried about the potential consequences of probate.
Key differences between wills and trusts include:
- Simplicity. Your will is a straightforward document that requires relatively little expense or maintenance. Trusts are more sophisticated arrangements that involve ongoing administration.
- Privacy. Wills entered in probate are a matter of public record, so anyone can theoretically examine who you left your assets to after you are gone. Trusts are entirely private.
- Flexibility. Assets named in a will are distributed near the end of the probate process once all debts have been paid. Trusts can be customized to distribute property whenever you wish or when certain conditions are met.
- Avoidance of probate. Trust assets are generally exempt from the probate process and can typically be distributed to beneficiaries more easily. Property named in a will generally must go through probate.
- Ability to name a guardian. You can only choose a guardian for your minor children in your will.
In many cases, it may be in your best interest to implement a will and a trust. A trust can be used to hold a majority of your most valuable assets and shield them from probate. A will can then be used to name a guardian for your minor children and “catch” any assets that are not in your trust at the time of your death. Our Billings wills and trusts lawyers at Dietrich & Associates, P.C. can work with you to draft and implement the documents appropriate to your situation.
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