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There are generally two ways to distribute your property after your death. The first is to have a probate judge transfer or distribute your property. The second is to have a "trustee" distribute/or transfer your property.

If you have a will, the local probate judge will distribute your property to the named beneficiaries of your Last Will and Testament. If you die without a Last Will and Testament the local probate court will distribute your property to your "heirs".

In order to avoid a court probate after your death, you can place your assets in a revocable "grantor" trust. During your life you can do whatever you want to do with your property. The trust will contain a section that directs the "successor trustee" of your trust when and to whom your property is to be transferred/distributed.

Both wills and trusts can be simple or quite complicated. Regardless of whether the will or trust is simple or complicated, you must use the correct, precise language so your intended distribution is carried out.

Another very important estate planning document is a Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney generally becomes effective if you are temporarily or permanently unable to make decisions regarding your property/income/debt and your personal care. If you sign a Durable Power of Attorney you must name one or more people to handle your affairs if you cannot do so.

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