You could shop around online and find a cookie-cutter will template. However, that is a very big risk. Many estate planners have made significant mistakes when creating a "do-it-yourself" will or trust document. There are just too many things that can go wrong, and too many headaches and costly expenses that your family will have to endure if you make a mistake. It's worthwhile to rely on the experience of an estate planning attorney to ensure that you draft a sound and valid will.
For many people, estate planning is all about decisions related to their assets. For example, they focus most of their energy on who will receive their assets upon their death.
The term "living" in a living trust means that the trust is created while the grantor -- or trust creator -- is alive. In the case of many living trusts, the grantor can change or alter the trust and remain in control of the assets within the trust while he or she is still alive. The grantor can do this by making him or herself the trustee.
It's understandable that you would want to prevent your heirs from needing to go through probate. Probate proceedings can be expensive and lengthy. They're also public, so anyone can find out information about you and your family.However, with the strategic use of a trust, you can avoid the need for costly and time-consuming probate proceedings. A trust -- for example, a living trust -- offers both confidentiality and the ability to give your assets directly to heirs. You can also structure and plan the way your assets are given -- either over time at specific intervals or immediately upon your death.
If you're a person who loves having pets, the last thing you'd want to see is your pet being mistreated or left alone after your death. Whether you have horses, dogs, cats, fish or other animals, it's a good idea to include them in your will.
An "express trust" is a convenient way to incorporate a trust into your last will and testament. This kind of trust, also known as a "testamentary trust," goes into effect at the time of your death. It does not affect your finances while you're still alive.