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Estates, Wills and Trusts

An estate is the total assets owned by an individual before its distribution through a will or trust. This is a person's net worth, and includes all property including land and personal property. An intestate estate is a condition of the estate of a person who dies owning property greater than the sum of his enforceable debts and funeral expenses without having a valid will; this type of estate is distributed according to state law. Wills and trusts allow individuals to designate specific beneficiaries of their choice, and the way their property is managed and distributed during their lifetime (as with certain types of trusts) or at their time of death.

Estate Planning

Estate planning involves setting up mechanisms such as wills and trusts that provide specific instructions for the distribution and management of property passing to a person’s designated beneficiaries.

Wills

A will is a legal document that distributes a person’s real and personal property at the time of their death.

Trusts

A trust is an arrangement in which one person or organization manages property for the benefit of another. As a trust may appear identical to a will, many trusts are created in conjunction with a will and other elements of estate planning. Additionally, trusts can operate while its creator is still alive.

Probate

Probate is the process by which a court determines the validity of a will and supervises the execution of its provisions and distribution of the decedent’s property. Probate also generally provides a process for payment or discharge of the decedent’s debts.

Living Wills

Living wills are legal documents that allow people to set forth instructions about the treatment and care they wish to receive in the event of incapacity. This includes whether they wish to receive life-supporting treatment.

Elder Law

Elder law covers issues encountered by the elderly, including long-term care, government benefits, and end-of-life decisions.

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