This is a difficult question to answer for many people. Often, it is because people do not know the difference between the two or what is involved in each. It is important to choose the one that is best for your needs so that your loved ones and family members will be protected and taken care of after you pass away. Here are some things we consider with our clients when helping them decide between a living trust or a last will. If you have any more questions about a living trust or a will, you should speak to one of our lawyers with the Higgins Firm. We will go through each option with you and help you with the planning of your estate.
First, it is important to know what a will and living trust mean. A will is a written document that is signed and witnessed that describes how you wish for your property to be divided after you die. It is revocable and can be amended or changed at any point during your lifetime. Finally, it allows you to appoint guardians for your young children. A living trust can provide life-time and after death management of your property. It is a legal written document that places your assets into a trust for your lifetime and then is transferred to a certain beneficiary or beneficiaries when you die. This person is known as a “successor trustee.”
Now, that you know what each one means, you are likely asking, well, which one should I choose? Well, both a last will and a living trust have benefits and disadvantages.• Having a Living trust means that you avoid probate by the court
- – Your successor will divide up your assets and pay your debts instead of an executor and court deciding the division of property. This will make the process much faster.
• A living trust may save you money after you die
– There may be some upfront costs that are actually more than just a will, but since your trust will not go through probate, this can save you money on court costs which may be substantial.
• Living Trusts can often give you more privacy
– A living trust unlike a will is not made public, so your estate can be disturbed or divided up in private. If you have out-of-state property when you die, it will not have to go through probate with a living trust as opposed to a will.
• A Living Trust can benefit you if you become disabled or ill
– If you become disabled or ill and are unable to handle your affairs, the successor of your living trust can take over for you. If you have a will without a durable power of attorney, the court will appoint a person for you.
• A Living trust can be used for any size estate
While it may appear that a living trust is a better option, it does some disadvantages. It can be more expensive to set up a living trust versus just a will. It also has to be actively managed after you create it. A living trust can also only control the assets that you put into it, so if you do not fund it before you die, the living trust will be useless and your assets will still have to go through the probate process and may face estate tax concerns.
There are many things to consider when deciding if a living trust or last will is right for you. This is why it is advised to speak to one of our experienced estate planning and probate lawyers with the Higgins Firm. We will answer any questions you may have and will help you to determine which option is best for your situation.
Feel free to contact us online or by calling 800.705.2121 to discuss your legal options with one of our estate planning lawyers.