You might be a young adult in the prime of your life. Or perhaps you are in middle age and have a few kids. You might even be getting up there in years, with children and grandchildren.

And you are wondering “why would I need to establish a will and trust instruments?” Many people believe that it doesn’t matter, or you can get to your estate plan anytime. You might even think that your spouse and kids will get everything anyway, so why do you need a will?

The truth is that a will and possibly some trust documents are important legal instruments. You should at least understand what they are and their importance to inform any decision you could make about whether to make an estate plan.

Why establish your estate plan in the first place?

The fact is that a well-conceived estate plan is a tremendous gift to your loved ones. It will help the probate process go much smoother and make all your intentions clear to your loved ones.

What is a will?

A will is a legal document that directs the transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries and directs the care of any minor children you leave behind.

Why establish a will?

It can minimize in-fighting with family members trying to determine who gets what and it keeps you in control of how and to whom you will transfer your assets. You have a will. Either it’s a will that you will write, or it’s a will that the state laws of Kentucky have already written.

A will can prevent stress, time, cost and relationship damage for your loved ones. Further, it makes sure your wishes and goals are realized.

With a will, why would I need to establish a trust?

A trust is a distinct legal instrument that presents an alternative means of transferring assets. In a trust, you designate and authorize a person to have control over some assets for the purpose of transferring them to a beneficiary.

A trust can be a less expensive method of transfer. Further, it helps you retain greater control of the circumstances of the transfer. For example, trust instruments could allow you to:

  • Control the timing of the transfer: An example of this is a financial gift to an heir that will be given after a graduation or after entering into marriage.
  • Control how the assets are used: An example of this is a trust that specifies that its assets are to be used only for college education expenses.
  • Create ongoing financial provision: An example of this kind of trust is a monthly transfer for a surviving spouse or child with special needs.

There are numerous types of trusts for a range of situations. An experienced attorney can help you understand the options and use the right tool for the job at hand.

The best thing to do is talk with a lawyer you trust who can get you started on your estate planning. A well-drawn, comprehensive estate plan is one of the best gifts you can leave for your loved ones.