Estate Planning FAQ: What does it mean to “fund” a trust?

To fund a trust means to retitle certain assets in the name of the trust.  Your trust only controls those assets that are “owned” by the trust.  If your trust is funded properly, the trust will control the distribution of your assets when you die; assets not owned by the trust may not be distributed as provided in the trust.  A properly funded trust can also help your estate avoid probate when you die.

Estate Planning FAQ: My attorney told me my husband and I should have separate wills. Why can’t we use one will for both of us?

Your attorney advised you well. A joint will is one document that distributes the assets of both husband and wife. When the first spouse dies, the will is taken through probate for that spouse, and then when the second spouse dies, the will is taken through probate for the second spouse.

Estate Planning FAQ: What happens if I die without a will?

A person who dies without a will is said to have died intestate. If you die intestate, your estate will be distributed according to state law, not according to your wishes. With very few exceptions, only family members will inherit your estate if you die intestate. If you want to leave money to a close friend, church, or charity, for example, you need to have a will.

Estate Planning FAQ: What are the requirements for a formal (typed) will?

For a formal, typed, will (called an “attested” will), there are three requirements that must be met for the will to be valid and enforceable: