When designing your estate plan with your attorney you may encounter some or all of the following documents based on your situation and planning goals. Below are the most common estate planning documents with a brief description.

Estate Planning Documents

Revocable Trusts

Revocable trusts are the most common trusts, and are designed to direct what happens with your property during your lifetime, during any period of incapacity, and after your death. A revocable trust can be altered, amended or revoked by the grantor(s).

Irrevocable Trusts

Irrevocable trusts generally may not be changed, especially by the grantor.  These types of trusts may be used for tax planning or asset protection. 

Testamentary Trusts

Testamentary trusts are created after your death and are frequently used in planning for persons who have minor children, are planning for persons with disabilities, or for asset protection. 

Special Needs Trusts and Supplemental Needs Trusts

Special needs trusts and supplemental needs trusts are designed to hold assets for individuals with disabilities who may receive government benefits subject to asset limitations. 

Pour Over Wills

A will used with a trust is called a “pour over will” and is used to “catch” any property that may end up in the probate process because it was not retitled to the trust. 

Power Of Attorney

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives someone the ability to make financial decisions and enter into transactions on your behalf. In signing a Power of Attorney, you are considered the “Principal,” or the person granting the power.

Health Care Directives

A Health Care Directive is a document that sets forth your wishes upon your incapacity and even death. While you are still fully capable and healthy, this document does not affect any situations regarding your ability to make decisions surrounding your personal health care. However, upon your incapacity it becomes effective and directs the person you appoint to make decisions for you (if you regain capacity, it then loses its power again).

Deeds to Trusts

In order to transfer title of your real estate to your trust, a new deed must be filed in the county where your property is located. The type of deed your attorney recommends will depend on how you received the real estate as well as the state laws for where the property is situated. 

Certificates of Trusts

A Certificate of Trust is a snapshot of your trust document. It provides information your financial institutions will need to open trust accounts, such as the complete legal name of the trust, the date the trust was established, the name(s) of the trustee(s) who have authority to act on behalf of the trust, as well as any additional information you wish to include. The Certificate of Trust allows you to provide pertinent information regarding your trust without sharing the entirety of your trust agreement with third parties. 

Assignments of Interests to Trusts

An Assignment of Interest may be executed to transfer the title of certain assets to your trust. An Assignment of Interest is commonly used to transfer business interests you hold to your trust, and assigns the property and assets held in the business to your trust for the purpose of determining title.

Funding Assistance

After a Trust is established you must take the next step to ensure it is properly funded. Trust funding is the process of changing ownership and beneficiary designations on your assets to the name of your trust. The trust is only effective when the assets have been transferred and the trust is funded.