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Wills and Trusts Attorneys in Rhode Island

A testator’s Last Will and Testament, or the Will, is in place to direct to whom assets will be distributed upon the testator’s death and in what form. In the event a person dies without a Will, the assets are not taken by the state, but instead are distributed pursuant to statutory rules of descent. In our office, we have dealt with many situations where estranged family members receive portions of an estate due solely to the fact that their relative did not have a Will.

What is a “Will”?

The Will also names the person who will be responsible for administering the estate. This person is called the executor, and he or she must be officially appointed by the probate court before he or she has the authority to act, even when he or she has been designated in the Will. The executor has the authority over bank accounts, personal property, debts of the estate, and is the person responsible to make sure distributions take place as indicated in the Will.

In the event the testator has minor children, the Will usually include language appointing a guardian for the children. This is done in the event the parents of the child or children died at the same time, or when one biological parent is not a part of the child or children’s life. It is important to mention that putting the choice in the Will is not a guarantee that the person will be appointed, but the Will can be used as evidence of the deceased parent’s wishes. The family court will retain jurisdiction over the child or children and make the final decision.

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What is a “Trust”?

A trust is a more detailed instrument that may be suggested for some clients. Like a Will, the trust language details how a person’s estate will be distributed upon his or her death. The difference between the Will and a trust is that the Will does not take effect until a person dies and a probate estate is opened with the probate court. A trust is most commonly used when a client owns real estate in more than one state, when tax saving provisions can be implemented, when special provisions need to be made for a special needs or spendthrift child, and when a husband and wife have a child or children from a previous relationship.

Putting assets into trust will remove those assets from a person’s probate estate upon his or her death. Therefore, a trust can also be used to avoid probate. Our office can assist our clients in making sure their assets have been correctly placed into the trust, and can provide advice regarding which types of assets belong in the trust. Trusts can also be used with life insurance policies and for charitable giving.

Trusts are not necessary in every situation, and an attorney should be consulted in order to determine whether a trust can be an effective tool in a person or family’s estate plan.

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At the Law Offices of Howe and Garside, LTD, we handle estate planning and administration everyday. If you or your loved ones are in need of experienced counseling for the delicate matters of wills and trusts contact the Estate Planning Lawyers at The Law Offices of Howe and Garside.