Every adult should have a Will or some written means of transferring their property according to their wishes after death (called a “testate estate” and the person creating the Will is called the “testator”). Wills pass property that is not otherwise transferrable by beneficiary designations, through Probate Court, which is an orderly process for distribution of estate assets. Each Will should be carefully crafted according to what each client wants and according to the laws governing transfers of wealth. Even people who think they do not have much, should have a Will to make their wishes known.
Wills are particularly important for parents of minor children so that they can appoint guardians who will care for the children upon the parents' deaths. In addition, if any child is disabled, parents can establish special trusts, even within or as an adjunct to a Will, to provide for the disabled child after the parent’s death.
Trusts are another estate planning tool that can manage assets before and after death. A trust transfers the management and administration of a person's property to some other individual or corporate institution, known as the trustee. The trustee is charged with the fiduciary duty to prudently manage and distribute the assets and/or income for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the trust. Some trusts can be established to manage assets during the life of the person creating the trust (called the “trustor” or “grantor” or “settler”) or they can be created as testamentary documents as part of one’s Will in which case they will not take effect or be funded until the person dies.
Peggy Pratscher has significant experience reviewing, drafting wills and creating revocable and irrevocable trusts that meet the objectives and needs of her clients. In addition to death transfer instruments, Peggy assists with the creation and drafting of advanced directives, such as powers of attorney and living wills, that manage health and financial needs during illness and disability occurring during one’s life.