Estate planning can be important for people in Virginia who want to make sure that their assets pass on to their heirs in the manner they choose. By making an estate plan, people can allocate their property and also help to avoid future conflict and delays among their family members. There are several types of documents that can be an important part of an overall plan, including wills and trusts. Wills are perhaps the best-known estate document, a written testament that directs how a person’s property should be disbursed after they pass away. It goes into effect after the person dies and, in most cases, passes through the probate court system.
A trust is effective at the moment it is created while a will goes into effect only after death. There are several types of trusts, and some may be funded by the will itself rather than during the creator’s lifetime. One of the most important steps in planning to use a trust is determining how and when the trust will be funded. Many people prefer trusts because of the higher level of flexibility and control that they provide. However, the formation of a trust can create an interest in the beneficiaries while the creation of a will does not.
While some types of trusts are irrevocable, other types of trusts are fully revocable and can be amended by the creator at any time. Irrevocable trusts provide greater asset protection from taxes, lawsuits and creditors, but unlike revocable trusts and wills, they are irreversible.
Trusts provide one important way of avoiding the probate court system and allowing assets to transfer more quickly and privately. An estate planning attorney may help people to draft key estate documents and develop a comprehensive plan to help them to achieve their goals.