Five Things To Know About Wills And Trusts In Alabama

At Jones, Hawkins, & Associates, LLC, in Montgomery, we provide peace of mind for clients through knowledgeable guidance in the area of wills and trusts. Our clients want the strongest assurance their wishes will be honored after death or during a health crisis. They want to know that property will be protected when the time comes to pass it on.

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Beneficiaries may be family members, close friends or preferred charitable or humanitarian causes, such as a church, university, museum or nonprofit organization. However you envision the disposition of your assets after your death, a properly executed will can ensure the transfer of your property according to your wishes.

Every adult should have a will. Most people realize this but for various reasons, put off addressing this important matter. Understanding your options and the advantages of different types of wills and trusts such as the five following types can help you choose the right testamentary document.

1. Simple Wills

Failure to create a will of any kind will mean property will be distributed according to state laws upon death, without regard for the wishes of the deceased. Everyone should put at least a simple will in place.

The simplest plan for your estate will be to have in place a simple will. In a simple will, the testator, or person making the will, chooses one or more parties who will receive his property after death. They can also choose conditions on which property is given through a will, as long as they comply with state law.

2. Reciprocal Wills

Married couples usually expect that one will die before the other. Should one spouse die, most or all property normally goes to the remaining spouse, and vice versa. At the same time, husbands and wives realize they could pass away together in a crash or some other disaster. Typically, spouses account for this expectation while also planning for the possibility of a fatal accident through reciprocal, or mirror, wills. In this type of will, spouses specify distribution of property upon the death of one or both of them. Reciprocal wills generally include provisions for simultaneous death, and who should receive the property and minor children, if applicable, in the event that both spouses die at the same time.

3. Revocable And Irrevocable Trusts

Trusts are used to separate legal title — who owns the property — from equitable title: who possesses and uses the property. When real or personal property is put into a trust, one party manages the property for the benefit of another. A trust can be revocable or irrevocable. Trusts are multipurpose, and can be used in a variety of scenarios to protect property, as well as its owners and beneficiaries. Many people use irrevocable and revocable trusts to help beneficiaries avoid or minimize the need for probate before assuming possession of assets.

4. Pour-Over Wills

You may believe you have titled all your assets to a trust. However, there is always the possibility that some assets will not be accounted for in a trust. For example, proceeds from a lawsuit could become payable near or after death. An inheritance could take effect near the end of life without time or opportunity to retitle property to a trust. Undetected assets, such as savings bonds, could fall outside the provisions of a trust.

5. Living Wills And Health Care Powers Of Attorney

One type of will is not a will in the usual sense, governing ownership of property. Rather, it has to do with the bodily health of the creator of the will. It is called a living will because it applies while the person is still alive, although incapacitated. A person at such a time is unable to make decisions for his or her own health care. This usually comes about during a health crisis or near the end of life.

In a living will, you can set out the types of medical treatment you would or would not like to receive in certain situations. For example, you can make your wishes known regarding blood transfusions, feeding tubes and resuscitation attempts. The living will may remove burdens of difficult decisions for family members at a time when you cannot speak for yourself. It may prevent conflicts over your health care that could otherwise arise between family members or between family members and doctors.

In addition to a living will that spells out your wishes regarding health care, you can designate a person to make decisions for you through a health care durable power of attorney, also called an advance directive.

For More Information, Contact An Alabama Estate Planning Lawyer

Alabama attorneys at Jones, Hawkins, & Associates, LLC, can help you design and create documents that apply to your wishes and life circumstances. Call 334-625-1754 or send an inquiry through this website for a prompt response.