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Six Common Questions Regarding Wills, Part Two

Last week, we posted the first part of a discussion on six common questions regarding the creation of a will. The questions are from a great post in The New York Times financial blog, "Bucks," by writer Tara Siegel Bernard.

The issues of why, when and how to go about creating your will are some of the most pertinent questions for end-of-life planning.

In this post, we will discuss the final three points of Bernard's article on making your will.

  1. What's the deal with revocable trusts?

    Revocable trusts, also known as living trusts, are created most often by individuals seeking to work around probate. As Bernard points out, depending on the probate laws in your state, the process can be costly in both time and money. However, revocable trusts keep the power in your hands and, even though you are putting your assets under the title of the trust, you can change the trust's stipulations whenever you like.

    Following your death, the trust will be distributed by a trustee (appointed by you) according to the directions you laid out.
  2. Other than a revocable trust, is there any way to bypass probate?

    In short, yes. Probate really only comes into play when an individual fails to name a beneficiary. While the process required to do this varies based on the assets being distributed, it is possible to take care of property transfer and avoid probate - without setting up a trust. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help you with this.
  3. Where is the best place to "hide" a will?

    If you've done a good enough job creating your estate plan, there should be no need to hide your will. In fact, you must make sure that the executor of your estate knows exactly where it is. Instead of spending time finding a hiding place, make a run to the store and pick up a high-quality fireproof box.

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