Why You Should Consider a Living Trust Instead of a Will
The main function of both wills and living trusts is to name beneficiaries for your property. A will lists your property and who it should be distributed to, while a living trust contains all of your assets as well as instructions for distributing them. While a traditional will is likely still the best option for you if you have no children and limited assets or a significant amount of debt, many people will likely find a living trust to be a much better fit for their needs, as living trusts provide privacy, flexibility, and control, that traditional wills do not.
Living trusts do not need to go through probate, while wills do. Probate is the process of concluding a person’s affairs after they pass away. It’s a legal proceeding that involves validating the will, settling all debts and taxes using the decedent’s estate, and distributing the remainder to heirs. This lengthy process can take months to years, whereas the distribution of a living trust is usually complete within a number of weeks.
- Out-of-State Property
If you use a traditional will, any out-of-state property will be required to go through the probate process in the state it’s located in. This can delay the already lengthy probate process. A living trust allows you to avoid this.
- Leaving Property to Young Children
Living trusts allow you to leave property to young children, which requires a work-around with wills. In order to leave property to a minor through a traditional will, you must name an adult to manage the property, or establish a testamentary trust in your will for young children. Alternatively, you can name a custodian under the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act.
A will is a public record, so it is publicly available, along with all related transactions. A living trust, on the other hand, is not made public, even after your death.
- Protection from Court Challenges
Living trusts are generally considered to provide better protection against potential court challenges.
- Avoidance of Conservatorship
In the event that you become incapacitated, a living trust gives you the ability to grant your spouse, partner, child, or any other person whom you trust, authority over the trust. A will does not have this flexibility, which can result in conservatorship. However, this can be avoided if you make a durable power of attorney in addition to your will.
Living trusts do have a higher up-front cost associated with them but can save you money in the long-term. Living trusts cost more to create, but avoid the legal costs of probate, which are deducted from the decedent’s estate. If you have a significant amount of money and you want as much of it as possible to be passed on to your heirs, then a living trust is likely the best option for you.
Contact a Trust Litigation Attorney
Deciding on end-of-life plans can feel overwhelming, but Joyce A. Julian, P.A. is here to help you. The experienced Fort Lauderdale probate and guardianship attorneys at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. will assess your unique circumstances and help you determine the best option for you. Schedule your free consultation online or call us today at 954-467-6656.