“A Will is All I Need”
Should you choose a will or trust?
When it is time to arrange for your final wishes to be carried out and for laying out instructions for disposing of your real estate and personal property, you can choose a will or a trust. Both documents will get the job done but are executed very differently. Before you choose which is best for you, there are four main differences that could help guide your decision.
Some of the most ardent fans of trusts at law firms are people who have been through the probate process for a loved one. The process is expensive, lengthy and public which is why so many folks make it a point to set up a living trust. Besides the expense and length, probate can become messy when family members come out of the woodwork to contest wills. When you set up a living trust, it is private and it completely avoids probate and all of the negativity around it. Property you assign to be distributed to certain people is distributed immediately without costs and delays.
When Privacy is a Priority
When someone dies and they have a will, it becomes a public record as soon as probate proceedings are begun. If you want to keep your personal and financial affairs confidential, a will is not your best choice. On the other hand, when you have a trust and you die, a successor trustee steps in and is responsible for following the terms of the trust agreement to distribute the assets.
Simple and Easy
A will can be created with little oversight or complication other than to be witnessed at the signing. A living trust is more complicated and requires an attorney to draft it. Living trusts are signed and notarized. For the trust to work correctly, all assets must be transferred to the trust. This process is commonly known as “funding the trust” and can take some time and effort to complete. The benefit, again, is there is no probate process whereas a will provides instructions to the probate court outlining the wishes of the person who made the will.
Asset Management during Life
When you choose a will rather than a trust to transfer your assets, the will does not become legally enforceable until after it is probated following the person’s death. A living trust owns your assets which are controlled by you, the trustee, while you are alive. Another advantage to having a trust is that you can choose to appoint another person as the trustee, and you can change this at any time. You can also change the beneficiaries or even cancel the trust at any time. When your trust owns your assets, your mental competence cannot affect the authority of your trust. When you assign the role of successor trustee and you become incapacitated, court proceedings are not needed to secure a conservator