The primary objective of an estate plan is to ensure that your assets are transferred in accordance with your wishes. While Cornerstone Wealth Management does not prepare legal documents, we can assist you in finding a qualified attorney that can help you determine which estate planning arrangement will work best for you.
A will is a legal document drafted in accordance with state laws wherein the estate beneficiaries are named. A simple will can suffice to ensure the desired transfer of assets and guardianship of children.
A will is subject to probate which means that all assets are distributed under the supervision of the court. An executor is named in the will and is responsible for ensuring that the provisions of the will are followed. Absent a will, the state becomes the executor of the estate and will name guardians and beneficiaries according to its laws.
A trust is a form of ownership that is set up by the estate owner to receive and hold title to the assets prior to their distribution to the heirs. A trustee is designated to manage the trust in accordance with its provisions. There are several different kinds of trusts, each designed to serve a specific purpose such as to avoid probate, minimize estate taxes, or manage the assets of the estate.
Titling of Assets & Beneficiary Review – Transfers by Contract
There are several ways to title assets that will result in different methods of asset transfer. Common forms of asset titling are Transfer on Death (TOD) or Joint Tenancy With Rights of Survivorship (JTWROS), which allow the assets to transfer, automatically and without probate, to the person named as beneficiary or who shares title jointly.
Assets such as life insurance and qualified retirement plans, including IRA’s, Roth IRA’s, 401k Plans, & Pension Accounts, transfer by contract to named beneficiaries outside of probate.
Other important documents to have in place include:
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Living Will