Here are some steps to consider when drafting a will and revocable trust:
- Determine your goals: Before you begin, consider what you want to achieve with your estate plan. Common goals include providing for loved ones, minimizing taxes, and ensuring that assets are managed according to your wishes.
- Inventory your assets: Make a comprehensive list of your assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, personal property, and life insurance policies. Document their current values and ownership details.
- Choose beneficiaries: Decide who will inherit your assets and in what proportions. Consider family members, friends, and charitable organizations. Be sure to include alternate beneficiaries in case the primary beneficiaries predecease you or are unable to inherit.
- Select a trustee for the revocable trust: Choose a responsible and trustworthy individual or a professional trust company to manage the trust assets according to the terms you establish. Consider naming an alternate trustee in case the primary trustee is unable or unwilling to serve.
- Appoint an executor for your will: Select someone to oversee the administration of your estate, including paying debts, and taxes, and distributing assets according to your will. It’s a good idea to name an alternate executor as well.
- Draft the revocable trust document: The trust document should include details about the trust’s purpose, the assets being transferred into the trust, the named beneficiaries, and instructions for managing and distributing trust assets. Consult with an attorney to ensure that the trust document is legally valid and aligns with your goals.
- Draft the will: Your will should provide for the distribution of any assets not included in the trust, name an executor, and, if necessary, appoint guardians for minor children. The will should also include a “pour-over” provision, directing any remaining assets into the revocable trust upon your death.
- Execute the documents: Sign the will and trust documents in the presence of witnesses and/or a notary, as required by your state’s laws.
- Fund the trust: Transfer ownership of your assets into the trust. This may involve re-titling real estate, changing beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement accounts, and transferring bank and investment accounts to the trust’s name.
- Store the documents safely: Keep the original will and trust documents in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe or a safe deposit box. Provide copies to your executor, trustee, and any other relevant parties.
- Review and update: Regularly review your will and trust to ensure they continue to reflect your wishes and circumstances. Update them as necessary, particularly after major life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a beneficiary.
Remember, this is only general guidance, and your specific situation may require additional considerations. Consult with a qualified attorney to ensure your estate plan is tailored to your unique needs and compliant with your state’s laws.
There are several online platforms that can help you create and file a will and revocable trust. While I cannot endorse any specific service, I can provide you with a list of some popular options. It is essential to research each platform, read reviews, and compare their features and pricing to determine which one best fits your needs. Additionally, consider consulting with an attorney to ensure that your documents are legally valid and align with your specific situation.
Here are a few popular online estate planning services to consider:
- LegalZoom (legalzoom.com) – LegalZoom offers a variety of legal services, including wills and trusts, and has been around for quite some time. They provide different levels of assistance, depending on your needs and budget.
- Rocket Lawyer (rocketlawyer.com) – Rocket Lawyer is another popular online platform that provides legal documents and services, including wills and trusts. They offer a subscription model with access to legal documents and consultations with attorneys.
- Trust & Will (trustandwill.com) – Trust & Will is an online platform specifically focused on estate planning. They offer customizable wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents, with an emphasis on user-friendly interfaces and simplicity.
- Nolo’s Quicken WillMaker & Trust (nolo.com) – Nolo is a well-known legal publisher that offers a do-it-yourself estate planning software called Quicken WillMaker & Trust. This software allows you to create and customize your will, revocable trust, and other related documents.
- Willing (willing.com) – Willing is another online estate planning service that aims to simplify the process of creating a will, trust, and other related documents. They offer a straightforward interface and affordable pricing.
Please note that online services may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with complex estates or specific legal concerns. In such cases, it is advisable to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who can provide personalized guidance and ensure that your documents are compliant with your state’s laws and notary requirements.
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