• Trusts: A trust is a legal arrangement where one person, usually called the grantor who gives legal ownership of specific property to a second person to use to benefit a third  person. Trusts are used for many reasons, but people often use them like wills to pass property to their beneficiaries. Trusts can in certain cases transfer property faster and cheaper than a will.

    • Trusts are very flexible and can meet many needs. Trusts can be for a charitable or private purpose. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. Trusts can be created in the lifetime of the grantor (a “living” or “inter vivos” trust) or at the death of the grantor (a “testamentary” trust).​

    • Trusts can be used for any legal purpose.  Some of these purposes are the management of assets on behalf of family members or children in case their parents are disabled or die, protection against creditors, eliminating the need for probate, minimizing estate and other property transfer taxes, and control over insurance policies as well as control over businesses.  Property that is transferred by trust does not go through probate like a will. So, the fees related to probate are avoided. Trusts can  be used to lower the estate tax due for married couples with larger estates and to provide for the health of an individual.

  • Will:  A will is a written legal document that states what you want done about various after you die.  A will can include your wishes about what happens to your belongings (called the "estate"), and about who will care for any minor children.  In the will, you should state who you want to carry out the instructions in the will.  That person is called the "personal representative."  Because details of your life may change, it's a good idea to review your will each year.  The persons you named as personal representative or beneficiaries may die before you.  Or you may change your mind about how you want your affairs handled after your death.

  • Probate: Petitions for probate must be filed with either the Register of Wills or with the correct Orphan’s Court. A personal representative for the estate will be appointed. The priority for appointing a personal representative is generally a). Anyone named to be the personal representative in the will 

    • Surviving spouses and surviving children if no will exists 

    • Residuary legatees (persons granted the remainder of the estate in the will)

    • Surviving children if a will exists

    • Other relatives of the person who died

    • Decedent’s largest creditor or other people named in the will.

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