Q: I'm starting to think about making decisions about what to do with my stuff after I'm gone. I'm still in good health but know that you can never expect the future.
I've heard friends talking about their estate planning but usually have no idea what they're talking about. I want to start making my own plan but am embarrassed to go into a lawyer's office blind.
Can you give me a basic overview of what documents are in a trust?
A: Taking care of your estate planning can save a lot of worry down the road.
There are two basic kinds of trusts: revocable and irrevocable.
Revocable trusts tend to be more versatile than irrevocable trusts, as it is easier to change them so long as the creator is mentally competent. A revocable trust becomes irrevocable once the trust's creator passes away.
Some of the common documents in a trust include the following: the trust itself; an advanced health care directive; a certification of trust; a declaration regarding the title of assets; funeral instructions; a family/separate trust; a springing or durable power of attorney; quitclaim deeds; a transfer of personal effects to the trust; and a will.
Many of these documents are extremely simple to draft (such as your funeral instructions), but others are more complicated.
Depending on your personal circumstances, you may need different plans. For instance, many people who have had more than one marriage and have multiple children may want to make two separate trusts -- one as a couple and one as an individual.
Don't feel embarrassed about visiting an estate lawyer. While it's always good to go into a first meeting with some preparation, an estate lawyer is there to provide their expertise. -- Emma, Doug's granddaughter