Some people in Saint Paul may have taken the wise step of creating a will or trust years ago, but as time marches on, what happens to these documents? Are they in a safe deposit box? Are they being held by an attorney? Were they simply stashed away in a filing cabinet in the home office?
Not being able to locate a person’s original will or trust document can cause issues once that person passes away. A person’s will or trust provides the directions on how they want their estate distributed upon their death. If a person does not have a will or trust when they die, their estate will be subject to the laws of intestate succession. This means that the state will dictate which of the deceased’s survivors will inherit the deceased’s estate and it may not be who the deceased would’ve chosen.
If a person has a trust, once they die their estate will not have to go through probate, which is the legal process the state uses to wind up the deceased’s estate and distribute the estate assets to the person’s heirs. A will still goes through probate but since it provides directions on how to distribute the estate assets, the probate process is simpler. Without a will or trust, the deceased’s estate may have to go through the entire probate process, which can be costly and lengthy.
It is important for people not only to have a will or trust (or both), but also to keep these documents in a safe place that is made known to their loved ones. When wills and trusts are easily accessible to a person’s loved ones, knowing where the deceased’s original will or trust is located once the person passes away can save a lot of headaches during what is already an emotionally-trying time.