Estates and Trust

What is included in an estate?


It includes all of your property, such as:

  • Real estate (for example, your home or an investment property)
  • Personal property (such as cars, furniture, antiques, coins or art)
  • Intangible property (which includes bank and investment accounts, stocks and bonds, Social Security benefits, life insurance policies and loans you made to other people)

Types of Asset Ownership:

  • Jointly owned
    • Right of survivorship – surviving owner receives immediately
    • Tenants in common – your share of assets goes to your heirs
  • Named beneficiary – for example, life insurance policy
  • Solely owned – owned solely by you

Elements of Estate Planning

  • Power of attorney – another person can act on your behalf
  • Living will – advance medical directive regarding health care
  • Will – specifies how assets are to be distributed on death
  • Trusts – legal arrangements to hold assets and property

Types of wills

  • Simple – specifies distribution of assets
  • Testamentary-trust – establishes a trust to receive assets
  • Pour-over – puts estate in trust before death
  • Holographic – handwritten, not witnessed
  • Oral – not written
  • Joint – one document with two wills (for example, husband and wife)

Types of trusts 

  • Testamentary – activated after death
  • Bypass – funded up to “lifetime exemption”
  • Marital power of appointment – assets put in trust for spouse
  • QTIP – qualified terminable interest property, benefits spouse of second marriage and children of first marriage
  • Living – all assets placed in trust while person is alive

Advantages of trusts

  • Reduce or eliminate estate taxes
  • Avoid probate
  • All assets under one plan
  • Can be changed
  • Quicker distribution of assets

Disadvantages of trusts

  • Transfer all assets
  • Keep transactions separate
  • Cost
  • State law
  • Conflicts

Estate Planning Checklist

  • Identify your assets
  • Decide how assets will be distributed and to whom
  • Consider having a power of attorney prepared
  • Complete a living will
  • Prepare a will
  • Update your beneficiaries on life insurance, benefit plans
  • Learn about and consider a trust
  • Learn about estate taxes
  • Consider retaining an attorney to prepare key documents
  • Enjoy the peace of mind of a completed estate plan!

For more information:  Web Resources

  • (enter “estate planning” in search box)
  • (enter “estate planning” in search box)
  • A Guide to Living Trusts,
  • Understanding Trusts,
  • Estate Planning, American Bar Association, http://


  • Quicken Willmaker Plus: (enter “Quicken” or “Willmaker” in search box)


  • Plan Your Estate, Denis Clifford
  • Kiplinger’s Estate Planning: The Complete Guide to Wills, Trusts, and Maximizing Your Legacy, John Ventura
  • 60-Minute Estate Planner: Fast and easy plans for saving taxes, avoiding probate, and maximizing inheritance, Sandy Kraemer

This material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC.

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