The rules of tennis can be a little confusing, but you don’t need to understand them in detail in order to have fun watching the U.S. Open Tournament. It’s an exciting time to see the country’s favorite players and ambitious newcomers battle it out on the court. One tennis rule is that “love” equals nothing. Interestingly, the word love as it’s used in tennis comes from the French l’oeuf, which means “egg.” The shape of an egg is the shape of zero, and the concept went from there and became love. 

However, in the rest of the world, love doesn’t mean “egg,” and when you love someone, that takes on a lot of meaning. You need to protect the ones you love, both now and in the future, and estate planning can help you do just that. Here’s how: 

Trust-Based Estate Plans

In general, estate plans are plans for asset protection and distribution, as well as debt repayment, in the future after you pass away. These plans can also include power of attorney designation and health care surrogate appointment in the event you become incapacitated, but when it comes to your family, the word you really need to know is “trust-based estate plan.”

A trust-based estate plan and a will-based estate plan are two very different things. With a will-based plan, you provide instructions to probate court (the court in charge of managing and enforcing the will) as to how to distribute assets. The downside to this is that your family has to go through the long, tumultuous process of probate court. 

A trust-based estate plan, by contrast, keeps you out of probate court. A trust-based estate plan allows your beneficiaries to get your assets directly via a revocable trust. The trust has title of your assets, allowing them to go to your designated relatives when you die without going through a middleman. 

Avoiding Probate Court: A Very Good Gift 

The probate process can take a while to accomplish, sometimes even more than a year. It’s expensive and time-consuming, and there is a lot of room for bickering and conflict with probate court. Staying away from this process ensures that your family isn’t left waiting to get your assets. They can benefit from them immediately, without going through the negative experience of probate court. 

Updating Your Plan 

When you choose a trust-based estate plan, you still need to make sure that you update and assess the plan every three to five years. Even if you think nothing’s changed in your family, it doesn’t hurt to take a look. If your family does go through life changes, however, you should make sure your plan reflects that (i.e. a new marriage, new children, divorce, death, etc.). Updating and re-assessing your estate plan ensures that your plan is current and benefits the people you want it to benefit. 

When you love people, that love means everything to them. A way to show it is through protection in the courts. While not as flashy as roses and lavish gifts, estate planning is a diligent way to protect family members and give them the support they need in the future through a trust-based estate plan.