How to establish a living will and trust

Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-27 19:59:38-04

As we move through various stages of life, it's important to consider putting a plan in place to take care of your loved ones in the event of an emergency. But how do you know where to start, or what documents are necessary when planning for the unexpected? According to experts at Desert Schools Financial Services, the answer depends on your unique situation, but if your life includes any of the following, you may want to establish a Will or Living Trust:

•   Family business

•   Investments

•   Property

•   Retirement accounts

•   Life insurance

•   Valuable jewelry

•   Dependents with special needs

•   Spouse or significant other

•   Minor or young adult children

•   Pets

•   Home

•   Car

•   Treasured possessions


A financial planning expert can walk you through the different types of wills and trusts available to you, but knowing what each is used for may help identify any gaps in your current plan. Here, we present the overall purpose for each document:

•   Last Will & Testament: Outlines wishes for the distribution of assets after death.

•   Revocable Living Trust: Controls how and when assets are distributed after death, without the cost and delay of probate.

•   Beneficiary Deed: Transfers real estate property at death to designated beneficiaries.

•   Financial Power of Attorney: Designates someone to make financial decisions on your behalf during incapacity.

•   Healthcare Directive: Establishes your medical wishes in case of incapacity.


Consult with your personal financial planner, or schedule a no-cost consultation with a professional to make sure your loved ones are provided for. Already have a plan in place? Over time, your needs may change and statutory requirements are affected by changes in the law. Make sure to update your documents as needed, or have them reviewed every couple of years. 

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