Wills, trusts, probate -- these terms can feel confusing and overwhelming to the average person. With so many misconceptions and half-truths regarding estate planning, it can be difficult to know where to begin. However, with the help of an experienced West Virginia attorney, a little planning now can go a long way toward benefiting loved ones after an individual dies.
A common misconception is that a last will and testament is all most people need. Wills are important, it's true; they serve as an official declaration of how an individual wishes his or her assets to be distributed after death. However, even with proper planning, a will still requires the estate to go through probate, a process which many people wish to avoid because it is frequently costly and time-consuming.
One way to get around probate is to establish a revocable trust, also known as a living trust. Some people shy away from trusts, mistakenly believing trusts will constrain what they are able to do with the assets and property held within while they are still living. However, revocable trusts are termed "revocable" for a reason: when properly drafted, they are completely amendable during the creator's lifetime. There is no limit to what can be done or what changes can be made by the trustee to the property within the trust.
Some West Virginia residents may also be under the misconception that they don't need to worry about estate planning because they don't have enough money to make it worthwhile, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Without proper planning, any amount of money or assets may need to go through the probate process unless other arrangements are made in advance. However, with the aid of an experienced estate planning attorney, both wills and trusts can be extremely valuable tools to help individuals achieve their goals for their loved ones.
Source: tcpalm.com, "Misconceptions about wills and trusts", Robert D. Schwartz, June 16, 2017