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July 2009 Tip

In the wake of Michael Jackson's death we are all reminded of how important it is to prepare a Will, regardless of your age and health. This is often called proper planning. Most of us do not have the sizable assets of a Michael Jackson or any other celebrity. However, what we have also needs to be protected. Like Michael Jackson, many of us have a home and children. If they are minor children, we want to make sure that we clearly designate in our will who we wish to be the guardian of our children, particularly if there is no surviving parent.

A Living Trust is a document which is created during the lifetime of an individual. It is a document which lays out the intentions or plans of its creator during his or her lifetime and also after death. Most people with sizable assets will create a trust in addition to a will, because during their lifetime they can manage their trust or designate someone else to act as the Trustee. What we learned is that Michael Jackson created his trust a few years before his death, and in his trust he designated a Trustee to act for him, for the benefit of his beneficiaries, namely his mother and children, as if he was still alive.

Do not dismiss the idea of creating a trust simply because you are not wealthy. A trust is simply a tool used to manage your assets during your lifetime and after your death.

Here's the Tip:

Consider creating a Will sooner rather than later if you have any assets you wish to leave for loved ones upon your death. Consider creating a Trust if your assets are anything more than your paycheck or a small bank account. Seek the advice of an estate planning professional to consider all of your options. The last thing you want is uncertainty and confusion among your loved ones, who are grieving your loss, after you are gone. Finally, clearly state the place you want to be laid to rest and who you trust to make the final arrangements to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

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