Estate planning basics – senior citizen’s guide

man signing a document

Planning for the distribution of your estate is an integral part of managing your assets. After all, you want to leave your hard-earned estate to the rightful heirs, and make sure that they will receive it.

Estate planning is the act of apportioning your properties and assets – your home, car, bank accounts, and other valuables and properties – to your designated heirs.

Your beneficiaries can be persons that you care about or organizations that mean a lot to you.

You have spent years growing your estate, and it is only right that you should consider getting help with an estate planning attorney.

It is not just about its physical or monetary value, but it also holds a degree of sentimental worth that your heir will surely treasure and care for.

What’s Better: A Will or a Trust?

Many people do not fully understand the difference between a will and a trust. They are sometimes confused to mean the same thing. Although both are beneficial means of estate planning, they serve a different purpose.

A trust is an estate planning arrangement wherein you, as a trustor, appoint a second party (a person or an institution) known as a trustee, to hold the assets and other property titles on behalf of the third party, the beneficiary.

It aims to provide legal security for the trustor’s estate. A trust is valid as soon as you create it, even if you are still alive.

In contrast, a last will and testament, or will for short, is a declaration of your final wishes as to how to distribute your properties after you are gone.

An executor is assigned to manage the estate and oversee its final distribution. When one dies without a will, the properties and assets will be left for the government to manage. Sometimes, it may even wind up as state or government property.

Depending on your situation, a trust or a will could be more beneficial for you. Your estate planning attorney can help you make the best informed decision.

Should you want to avoid probate and have more control of how and to whom your estate should end up and when, trust would be a good option.

With it, your financial affairs are kept private, and court intervention is kept at a minimum. Trust is generally more adjustable than a will. The downside is that it costs more to organize.

A will costs less to set up and change or dissolve. If you are 60 years old and below, have minors under your care, have children or grandchildren, and cannot actively handle your estate plan, a will would be a more sensible choice for you…
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