San Antonio Living Trust
A living trust differs from a will or a “last will and testament” in several ways. Also known as a “revocable trust”, a living trust is a written legal document that transfers your assets into a trust during your life. Upon your death, the assets from the trust are then transferred to a predetermined beneficiary called a “successor trustee.”
Unlike a will, which simply describes how assets should be distributed, a living will protects your assets during your life as well as after your death. Establishing a living will can be beneficial in three key ways.
Living Trusts Can Help You Avoid Probate
With a traditional will, your assets will enter probate, after death. Probate are the formal court proceedings in which the state executes your will and distributes your assets per your will specifications. This can be a cumbersome and lengthy process, especially if your will is incomplete or contested. With a living trust, your assets do not go through probate and beneficiaries can be awarded the assets in the matter of a few weeks.
A Living Trust Saves Your Family Money
Although drafting a living trust can be more expensive than a traditional will, without having to go through probate, your living trust can save you money in the long run. Probate can be a very expensive process. If your will is contested, this can add significant fees and delays in distributing your assets.
A Living Trust Gets Your Affairs In Order
Another benefit with a living trust is that your trustee can seamlessly assume the responsibility of your estate should you become unexpectedly ill or incapacitated. If you only have a will, power of attorney has to be established and, in some cases, if this has not been properly established before your illness, the court may appoint a financial overseer for your assets.
With a living trust, you have already selected a successor trustee who you feel comfortable with managing your affairs, all without having to get the courts involved.
A trusted law firm can work with you to determine whether a will or a living will is best for your family.
Power of Attorney – A power of attorney is a legal document granting someone, of your choosing, the authority to make decisions for you or “act in your place.” This is often established in the event that you are mentally unable to make decisions for yourself. With a power of attorney in place, the person you name will have the legal right to manage your financial affairs including investments, bills and make decisions regarding your medical care. Planning ahead by establishing power of attorney can be an effective way to put your mind at ease knowing your affairs will be properly taken care of, if you are unable to make decisions on your own.
To ensure your affairs are properly covered, it is important to have two separate power of attorney documents in place. One should address how health care decisions should be handled, and by whom. And, the other should detail who is responsible for managing your financial affairs. In most cases, people appoint the same power of attorney for both areas, but in some cases, you may separate the decision making authority to two or more different people.
Statutory Durable – When a power of attorney is established, the person appointed to make decisions is referred to as the agent who can make decisions for you, the principal. By using a statutory durable power of attorney the legal implications are more permanent. This type of document includes language ensuring that the agent’s powers remain in effect, even if you are no longer mentally competent to make decisions on your own. This arrangement helps to avoid any additional legal requirements that may need to be established, should you be incapacitated and unable to change any legal authority or manage your financial and health care affairs.
Medical Power of Attorney – Power of Attorney can come in several different forms, depending on the decisions and/or affairs the agent is responsible for handling. A Medical Power of Attorney has the legal authority to make health care or wellness decisions, should the principal be unable to make those decisions themselves. In this case, the Power of Attorney does not have a legal right to manage or make decisions related to any other realm of the principal’s life. Therefore, they would be unable to manage the financial or asset distribution decisions without obtaining a more inclusive power of attorney designation.
Directive to Physicians (Living Will) – A will gives you the ability to make arrangements for how your assets are handled after death, but also how you should be medically cared for, should you be incapacitated. You can include specific instructions related to resuscitation, medical intervention, and quality of life. Your will can provide your permission, or lack thereof for physicians to revive you, extend your life by using life support or make other life-saving medical decisions.
Declaration of Guardian – This is a legal document outlining who you want to serve as your guardian, should this ever be needed. Families with children, often use this to appoint guardians and caregivers for minor children, should both parents die. For adults, or non-minor individuals, guardians can be named should you become unable to care for yourself. There are two types of guardians that can either manage your estate or your person. Guardians of your estate are responsible for ensuring your property and assets are taken care of. Whereas a guardian of your person has the legal duty to provide care, protection, and supervision to you. This extends to meeting your health care, nutritional and emotional needs.