Estate Planning 101: Should I Have a Will or a Living Trust?

It can be overwhelming to start the estate planning process. There is often confusion on if you should choose a will or a living trust. In estate planning, a living trust is important if you would like your assets distributed to your loved ones after your untimely demise. It will dictate terms that you set in advance which a successor trustee must follow to ensure your assets go towards the people you want it to in your absence. A legal will is similar document that memorializes your intention to pass assets to people after your death. Just know that there is a stark difference between the two and in most cases, establishing a living trust while you are alive can be more advantageous compared to a will.

What happens when you choose to set up a will

The main advantage of choosing a living trust over a will is that after you pass, it is not subject to the same limitations as a will. A will must go through the probate court process, which can delay the distribution of assets. The courts can require a legal proceeding to determine the validity of a will if it is legitimate, and courts can analyze the distribution of property to parties. By going through probate court, valuable time and money will be drained.

What happens when you choose to set up a living trust

Alternatively, a living trust does not need to process through probate court. Instead, it is more direct which appoints a successor trustee to follow the terms of the trust distributions. Living trusts often require “front heavy work” meaning that you will need to take actions to decide which assets go to which loved ones in advance, and then finalize the process by transferring property you own into the trust. Even though establishing a trust may seem like a more rigorous process, you can rest assured that you are building the blocks for a secure transfer of assets as a viable contingency plan if disaster befalls you. Many people decide that a living trust makes sense if they own real estate or have children.

In sum, your future self will thank you if you seek legal assistance to establish a comprehensive estate plan. Advanced planning is always beneficial when it comes to providing for your loved ones after death. If you would like to establish a living trust and estate plan, please do not hesitate to contact us and we would be happy to assist.

*DISCLAIMER: The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice but should be construed for general informational purposes only.

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