There is nothing more valuable than peace of mind when entering your later years of life. Part of this peace of mind originates in knowing that your hard-earned life savings, property and investments will seamlessly transition to your family and named beneficiaries according to your wishes at the time of your passing.
Unfortunately, a legal challenge from a disgruntled family member or greedy beneficiary could be devastating for the rest of your family at a time when they will be coping with your loss. It’s best to plan now. You can take proactive steps to ensure your estate is protected from challenges, or contestability, through proper estate planning tools. In fact, a Revocable Trust could well be the solution.
A Revocable Trust, or Living Trust, is a legal agreement that places assets of your choosing into a “trust” during your lifetime. When you are no longer here, a hand-picked trustee of your choosing will hold and manage trust assets for the benefit of your family and beneficiaries. The ultimate goal is that these assets will be transferred to your intended heirs according to your instructions at the appropriate time after your death.
Revocable Trust planning presents a number of advantages in Wisconsin. Perhaps, the most significant is the avoidance of probate court. Probate is the court-supervised process of distributing assets contained in a Last Will and Testament after any creditors are paid. Under probate law, wills can be contested by spouses, children and other parties.
Another significant consideration and potential downside of probate is a loss of control. Since a judge, attorneys, and the probate court system are all involved, you can lose control. The risk of an unfavorable legal decision and emotional distress for your family increases without your guidance.
Further, you lose your privacy. Since probate proceedings are public record, anyone can search probate proceedings and learn more about your private affairs which, in turn, can provide fodder for legal disputes.
Many families also contend with sensitive familial dynamics. Surviving heirs may deal with medical conditions, disabilities, or struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. Even if such scenarios are understood within the family, it’s not worth subjecting them to public scrutiny. The Revocable Trust is a starting place to create a trust-based estate plan that will ensure your family is provided for in the long-term.
When you engage in trust-based estate planning, you are in control. There may be certain items to settle after your passing, but your family will be provided for under your wishes. Revocable Trusts remain a legal planning technique that is more difficult to challenge in general. If this article raises more questions than it answers for you or you wish to explore what trust-based estate planning may do for you and your family, do not wait to contact our office.