Preparing for the end of one's own life is a necessary task that most West Virginia residents often prefer to put off. However, estate planning is an important part of making sure that one's wishes are carried out. It is also an essential part of taking care of loved ones.
The most basic form of estate planning is the creation of a will. A will is used to specify who should inherit what upon one's death. Along with the executor of the estate, a guardian for any underage children is often named within the will. Upon an individual's death, the will is submitted to the probate process, and the executor makes sure that the individual's final wishes are followed.
Some individuals find that a trust is a desirable tool for transferring assets; assets are transferred to the trust and a trustee is designated. The person creating the trust can also be the trustee. One benefit of a trust is that assets can be transferred during the individual's lifetime. Then, if that individual is no longer able to make decisions for himself or herself, the trust can continue to manage the assets under the guidance of a successor trustee. Additionally, a trust can be used to transfer specified items or amounts at specified times or occurrences such as a specific birthdate.
Estate planning is an important part of one's financial portfolio. In the absence of a will, trust or other estate planning document, distribution of one's estate is left up to the West Virginia courts, and assets may not be distributed the way the individual intended. An experienced estate planning attorney can help one decide the appropriate method for handling one's estate.
Source: wmur.com, "Money Matters: Wills vs. trusts", Marc Hebert, April 13, 2017