The Elder and Disability Law Firm, APC April 8, 2019

Those in California who follow politics or pop culture may have heard about the recent passing of Lee Radziwill. While many people mourn her death, her estate plan was designed to make it easier to respect her final wishes. She had a will that was probated in New York as well as a revocable trust. Her assets were transferred into the trust when she passed away.

Typically, wealthy individuals use a trust as a substitute for a will. It makes it easier to avoid probate and the public spectacle that it can create. However, Radziwill was required to have a will as some issues related to settling her estate could not be done without it. The will that was probated was put into place in September 2018, and the trust was created in 2017. This meant that she was likely updating both documents as life events occurred.

It is generally a good idea for most individuals to think of estate planning as a lifelong process as opposed to a single event. When reviewing a trust, it may be a good idea to do so with family members present. This can help an individual better explain the intent of a trust and why it is structured in a certain manner.

The use of a revocable trust may allow a person to protect assets without losing access to them. A revocable trust may become an irrevocable trust when a person dies, and it can either be funded while an individual is alive or at the time of his or her death. Ideally, a trust or other estate plan documents will be reviewed annually or whenever a person feels compelled to do so. Reviews may occur in private or with an attorney.

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