The foundation of any comprehensive estate plan begins with the creation of a will. A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the management of your affairs after death. A will, in it’s simplest form, serves as a fundamental legal document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of assets, guardianship arrangements for minor children and the appointment of an Executor or Executrix. With the guidance of our estate planning attorneys, this document can become a powerful tool that protects your family’s financial security and ensures your wishes are honored after you pass.
In drafting a will, you, as the testator, must appoint an executor. This person will be responsible for the management of your estate, making sure that your debts are paid, and distributing your assets as you outline in the will. Another factor that you must decide is who your beneficiaries are. These are the individuals who will receive your assets and property. This can include family members, friends, and charitable organizations. You can decide to make this very specific to avoid any disputes after your death. If you have minor children, you can use the will to nominate a guardian to care for them in the event of your death. Lastly, you can outline how your debts and funeral expenses should be paid from your estate.
Estate planning is a dynamic process that can accommodate both the simplest and most intricate of needs. Wills are suitable for individuals with relatively straightforward financial and family situations and can be especially beneficial for those that want to make specific bequests, such as leaving sentimental items or financial gifts to loved ones. Taking the time to have even a simple will drafted will provide peace of mind that your wishes will be known and executed and allows you to minimize the potential for family disputes.
Mirror Wills are just as they sound, a pair of wills, typically of a married or committed couple, that contain identical or reciprocal terms. If you are married or have a partner, mirror wills can be extremely beneficial tool to protect each other. Due to the joint ownership of assets that often occurs in partnerships, mirror wills are written together to express the similar wishes of both partners. This option can be cost saving and quickly turned around.
Mirror wills express the same or very similar wishes for the distribution of their assets, common for married couples with grown children. Essentially, in mirror wills, the assets of the first spouse to pass away will be left to the surviving spouse. When the surviving spouse passes, the assets of the couple will be distributed to the beneficiaries. The ultimate distribution to heirs is the same regardless of which spouse passes first. However, they can still include individualized provisions based on each partner’s specific circumstances and priorities.
If your estate planning needs are more complex, our attorneys can guide you through the best options on how to protect your spouse upon your death. Whether or not mirror wills are the best option for you, we can assist you in an estate plan that is right for your family.
To add another layer, a Will with a Testamentary Trust offers several additional benefits to a will. A testamentary trust is a trust that is established within a will and only comes into effect upon the death of the person creating the will, or the testator. A testamentary trust offers added protection and control over how assets are distributed and can be particularly beneficial when dealing with complex family dynamics, minor children, or individuals with special needs. The testator can specify conditions that must be met before beneficiaries can access the assets. Frequently, families with young children prefer to have at least a testamentary trust so minor children do not inherit until they reach an age of maturity, ensuring that assets are utilized in a manner that aligns with the values and wishes of the testator. Additionally, a testamentary trust can help avoid probate and tax penalties.
Sometimes, when writing a will, you come across certain assets that you want to protect for specific beneficiaries. This is where a will and testamentary trust may be the best option for you. The will would outline the terms and the conditions of the trust, including how assets are to be managed and distributed, name the trustee, and designate the beneficiaries. A trust provides protection for assets and it’s beneficiaries who may not be capable of managing assets on their own and thus the trustee is responsible for managing the assets for their benefit.
When deciding whether a will and testamentary trust is best for your needs, it is important to look at your overall estate planning goals. Estate planning should be highly individualized, and the right approach will depend on your unique needs and goals. Our Estate Planning team can recommend the best way to execute your wishes to ensure you fully understand your end product and documents.
A Pour Over Will works in conjunction with a Trust and acts as a safety net, directing any assets that have not been explicitly transferred into a Trust or designated as a specific bequest, to be “poured over” into your trust after your passing. It is important to note that the Pour Over Will is subject to probate administration, unlike assets already held within a trust, which generally bypass probate. However, if you were to acquire or purchase a significant asset, such as property, and do not assign it to your trust, the Pour Over Will helps ensure these assets are ultimately managed and distributed in accordance with your specific wishes. In your estate planning, you will determine the distribution of assets in your Pour Over Will, should there be any at the time of death.
A Pour Over Will should always be a part of your estate plan if you elect to have a trust. We will explain more on trusts next, the different types and the benefits of establishing a trust.
Linda is the seasoned probate paralegal working together with clients helping them through probate administration following the loss of a loved one. Joining the team in 2023, she has brought 25+ years of legal experience to the firm with extensive proficiency in all administrative tasks, Probate Court knowledge, complex document preparation, and case management. Linda works exceedingly well the court’s staff and cultivates close relationships with new and existing clientele.
Linda is a long-time resident of the area and loves going for walks on the beach before work. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Ken, and their three grown children. She enjoys road trips, is an avid reader, collector of sea glass and is an amateur artist.
Ashley is the paralegal working directly with our attorneys and our clients. The attorneys at Doyon & White are grateful that our clients feel comfortable reaching out to Ashley for status updates or quick questions when the attorneys are unavailable. Ashley has a background in customer service with 10 years in the hotel industry and enjoys the client relation aspect of her job the most. Ashley is intimately familiar with the details of our client’s cases, processes and reviews all medical records, and communicates with attorneys and insurance adjusters.
Ashley moved to Branford, Conn from Northern California in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since. She enjoys the four seasons New England offers by playing golf and tennis in the summer and looks forward to snow days and skiing in the winter.
Attorney Doyon was born and raised in the hills of Northwest Connecticut. Trevor began his legal career serving as the clerk for several Superior Court Judges, many of whom are now members of the Connecticut Supreme and Appellate Courts.
Before forming Doyon & White Law Group, Trevor was the Managing Partner of a successful mid-size law-firm’s Litigation Department. Trevor has favorably authored and argued hundreds of motions and hearings in every Judicial District of Connecticut, in addition to winning numerous contested arbitrations and jury trial verdicts. Attorney Doyon is known and respected for his determined approach to unique and difficult legal issues by clients and judges alike.
Trevor has been honored as a Super Lawyer’s Rising Star for 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, a selection made by colleagues and peers and reserved for less than five percent of lawyers in Connecticut. Attorney Doyon has also been nominated to the “National Trial Lawyer’s Top 100” list, was recognized by the American Institute for Lawyers as “Top 10 for Client Satisfaction,” and has been a featured guest speaker at Yale University’s Trial Law Camp.
When he’s not in Court, Trevor enjoys spending time with his wife Becky, their two daughters and their Great Dane “Gronk,” in addition to supporting anything UConn sports and coaching Connecticut’s only national level Sled Hockey team.
Attorney White was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. After graduation from Fordham University, he worked in commercial finance in New York City before attending Quinnipiac University School of Law. Upon graduation he served as a clerk in the Superior Court in both the criminal and civil divisions.
Prior to forming Doyon & White Law Group, Attorney White practiced at a mid-size firm in Hamden, Connecticut where he mainly handled criminal defense, habeas cases, and civil litigation matters. Attorney White’s experience arguing before jury trials and court trials has led to winning favorable results for his clients on many occasions. Attorney White’s civil litigation experience includes personal injury representation, business litigation, and insurance coverage disputes.
Attorney White is a thoughtful and diligent advocate for all his clients and is respected for the rapport he builds and compassion he conveys.
Attorney White is a member of the New Haven County Bar Association and previously served as the President of the New Haven Young Lawyers Association.
Still a proud New Haven resident, Attorney White enjoys spending time in the city with his wife Sara, their two young children, and their pit bull, Ghost. He’s an avid UConn basketball fan and New York Yankees fan.