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Wills and trusts are two documents used for estate planning. Each can be simple or decidedly complex, depending on the value and complexity of your estate. But whatever the size of your estate, knowing the ins and outs of each can help ensure your wishes are more closely followed.

A will for your wishes

Everyone should have a will. It’s the most basic estate-planning document detailing your wishes, including who receives your assets and property. If you have minor children, you can name who becomes legal guardian for them. The executor named in the will makes sure the will is executed according to your instructions. If you die without a will the probate court will decide who gets what. Don’t forget about the taxes that may be imposed on the estate.

Review the beneficiary designation you have on file for your ABA Retirement Funds Program account, or name one or more beneficiaries if you have not already done so. Just log into your account online at www.abaretirement.com and visit the “Personal Information” section.

There are many books and online resources that show you how to draft a valid will in your home state for little to no cost – but a poorly written will could be challenged in court. Think about getting help from an estate attorney to make sure your wishes are clearly communicated and less likely to be challenged.

Read Estate Planning Strategies for more information about naming beneficiaries, creating a will, and more.

Should you trust in a trust?

A trust is a legal entity that holds the title to property and assets that would otherwise be registered in your name – such as your home, cars and financial accounts. A trust can offer flexibility and protection. In a trust, you can give detailed conditions on how your assets are distributed, such as delaying an inheritance to a child until a specified age or until some goal is achieved, like graduating from college.

Like a will, a trust is a legal document. It is a good idea to enlist the services of an attorney with specialized expertise to draft a trust.

Take control of your estate

Your estate consists of everything you own. It includes your cash, investments, life insurance policies and personal property. Having a will and perhaps a trust that are regularly updated will give you more control and make it easier for those involved to manage your estate plan.

Need help?

Work with an estate attorney to determine whether a will or a trust makes sense for you.

Neither Voya nor its affiliated companies provide tax or legal advice. Please consult with your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation.

This material is provided for general and educational purposes only; it is not intended to provide legal or tax advice.  We recommend that you consult an independent legal or tax advisor for specific advice about your individual situation.