What to Do When Someone Dies Without a WillWhat to Do When Someone Dies Without a Will

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What to Do When Someone Dies Without a Will

Hello, my name is Kerry. Last year my mother died suddenly. When we went through her papers, we discovered she didn't have a will. My mother had been married to another man before she met my father and I had a couple of step brothers. Unfortunately, they turned up on our doorstep and started to demand that we hand over my mother's life savings to them and their family. I contacted a lawyer who specialises in probate law. She talked me through my case and explained how we would defend it in court. Thankfully, the matter was resolved to my satisfaction and I could start to grieve for my mother. I decided to start this blog to help others who have a contested will on their hands.

Estates planning 101: Setting terms for your trust fund

Trusts are useful and reliable ways of transferring property to your beneficiaries. Having worked so hard for what you currently own, you need to have control over who you would like to receive your assets. With a well-established trust fund, you can set specific terms for who should receive your property, how much they should get, and over what period of time.

Proper terms can also prevent your children from receiving everything at once and possibly mismanaging large amounts of money. As you embark on setting the terms of your trust fund, consider the following factors.

1. Select the right trustee

A trustee is the person who will be responsible for managing the fund after you pass away. You should take time to carefully select a trustee who will properly manage your fund and carry out your specific wishes.

Make sure it's someone you trust and who has adequate knowledge of how to manage your estate posthumously. You may consider having a co-trustee so as to spread the responsibility and have checks and balances in place.

2. Determine payout periods

If the trust fund is for your children, you should strongly consider setting up multiple payouts over time. This will prevent the risk of your children mismanaging huge amounts of money at one go.

It's not uncommon for beneficiaries to be influenced by malicious friends or deceitful spouses/partners when they receive a lump sum amount from a trust fund. With multiple payout periods, your children will be less likely to blow it all at once.

A good strategy is to implement age-based payouts. This means that your child will get a certain percentage of the fund as they reach a specific age. The older they get, the larger percentage they receive.

3. Set conditions for receipt of the funds

If your goal is encouraging your children to develop themselves professionally, consider setting appropriate conditions for the trust fund. For example, you may stipulate that your teenage children will only receive their share of funds if they successfully graduate from college. If this is your goal, consider specifying a certain portion of the funds to only be used towards payment of college tuition.

You may also set a similar condition for employment, marriage, etc.

4. Consider starting off with a living trust

You can design an even better trust fund by starting off with a living trust. Living trusts enable you to maintain full control of any property within the trust until your demise. You can add assets to the fund, change your beneficiaries, and adjust conditions for payout as you go. After passing away, the fund will automatically shift control to your trustees.

For more information about wills and trusts, work with a local lawyer.