A notary public is a public official who has been appointed with the authority to provide services in relation to certain non-contentious concerns such as estates, deeds, powers-of-attorney, and international business. A notary might administer oaths, take affidavits, prepare, witness, and authenticate the execution of certain documents, and prepare ship’s protests in cases of damage. Commercial or personal documents that either originate from or are signed in another country generally must be notarized to be officially recorded and take legal effect. A notary must remain impartial in these matters as his duty is to the transaction itself and not just to one party.
Notary services include:
Trusts are legal mechanisms that follow pre-set conditions (as designated by you) on when and how your assets will be distributed upon your death. Using a trust gives you the control the timing and method of distribution of assets, but also can save you in taxes, reduce liability to creditors, and avoid the necessity of probate court (the body that administers wills).
A testamentary trust goes into effect upon your death with the express purpose of allocated your assets to your desinated beneficiaries. A trust is no substitute for a will, a trust should only be used in conjuction with a will as part of an overall estate planning strategy developed in working with one’s solictor.
Trusts are not just for the wealthy! You may benefit from establishing a trust if:
Some possible advantages to using a trust:
Simply put, everyone who is an adult needs a will. If you die without a will (known as dying ‘intestate’) the courts will decide how your assets are distributed (often by standard formulas based on familial relationship) and potentially create additional costs, delays, and headaches for your heirs. Taking the time to write out your intentions saves trouble for everyone down the line.
Formalising your wishes in a will makes your desires ‘official’ so there is a known record as authorised and signed by you. It’s also critical for those with small children to name guardians by way of a will or this too will be decided by a court. A will also allows you to leave a portion of your assets to charitable institutions. While the basics of deciding how to allocate your assets may be simple (such as leaving everything to one family member), a properly trained solicitor should be involved as well to ensure that your will hold up if challenged in court.
What if you change your mind? You may amend your will at any time. It’s recommended to review your will periodically to ensure it still is applicable to your financial and familial situation. At the same time, you’ll want to review your beneficiary designations for your retirement, pension, and insurance policies as those are automatically transferred.
While rarely considered a ‘fun’ process, estate planning is essential regardless of your net worth for piece of mind in knowing your assets will be distributed according to your desires. Planning ahead and recording your wishes will additionally reduce administrative costs and headaches for your family. A full estate plan typically includes a will, assignment of power of attorney, and a living will/health care proxy (medical power of attorney). Family trusts may also be appropriate in some circumstances.
Your first step in estate planning should be to take inventory of your assets. This includes your investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, and real estate and/or business interests. Then ask yourself: Who do you want to inherit these assets? Who do you want handling your financial affairs when you are unable to do so? Who do you want making medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself?
It is also critical to discuss your plans with your heirs as well as other family members who may question your decisions. It is better to avoid surprises or any challenges to your will which will hamper your wishes being carried out.