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Differences between a Will and a Living Trust

When looking at legal documents regarding distribution of property and your assets after death, you will find a last will and testament and a living trust.  These two documents are not the same, although they both deal with the distribution of your property after your death.  Deciding which one is best for your estate can be tricky, and it’s important that you understand the differences between the two.

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What is a Living Trust?

If you are not familiar with legal terms and if you haven’t seriously thought about your will and other, similar documents, you may not know what a living trust is.  A living trust is a binding legal document that you create while still alive for one of two reasons: to avoid probate, or to save money when it comes to taxes.  Creating a living trust also guarantees that your properties will not go to probate proceedings, saving your heirs a great amount of time and trouble.  You’ll also help protect your financial privacy and set out guidelines for the distribution and use of any assets if you become unable to handle matters yourself. A living trust may be revoked by the creator, also called the Grantor, at any time.

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What Do I Need to Create a Will?

One question few people ever ask themselves is this: “How do I create a will?”  It’s a very good question, and it’s one that people really should ask themselves.  Even if you’re still fairly young and healthy, you never know what may happen.  If you die intestate, your family can end up dealing with the courts and other legal systems for years.  To ensure that your last wishes are carried out, it is important that everyone create a will.  But what do you need to create this important legal document?

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Basic Steps to Creating a Will

Preparing a will may be something many people find a little morbid, but it’s a very important thing to do.  Even though it does mean thinking about one’s own death, creating a will not only provides guidelines for the distribution of your property, it can also help protect your heirs.  It will often save them money and time and it will also remove any question or doubts as to your final wishes and decisions.

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Advantages of a Living Trust

The purpose of creating a living trust is often not only because they want to set up a trust for their beneficiaries, but because they want to benefit from the advantages a living trust offers.  However, there are some disadvantages to creating a living trust as well, and it’s important to understand the various advantages and disadvantages to a living trust before creating one.

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Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts

When creating a trust, most people create a revocable trust.  A revocable trust, which is has several key differences from an irrevocable trust.  Both allow for transfer of property to heirs without the need of a probate court, which saves time, money, and protects the privacy of all parties involved.  However, in some situations, a revocable or an irrevocable trust may be more useful to all parties involved.

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Power of Attorney Basics

A power of attorney is a document that gives one person the legal authorization to make decisions on someone else’s behalf.  This power extends to many different business and legal matters.  By executing a power of attorney, the grantor (sometimes called a donor or principal) is authorizing his or her agent to assume these legal powers. Institutions such as banks, hospitals, and the IRS require that power of attorney be done in writing.

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How to Change Your Will

Once you’ve created your last will and testament, you may believe you are finished with this depressing chore.  However, over the years, you may find that you need to update or completely redo your will.  There are a variety of things that can make this necessary, including marriage or divorce, having children, changing your beneficiaries, and/or selling or buying  property.  Here are some basic steps to keep in mind when changing your will.

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