Often, people think of estate planning as something reserved for wealthy individuals and families. In reality, estate planning is helpful for almost everyone. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and ProAdvocate can help you identify the tools and plans that best fit your unique needs. Similar to a will, living trusts are a mechanism by which we can handle the distribution of our assets after we pass away. A living trust is a building block of many estate plans, and it offers distinct advantages. When compared to a will, a living trust avoids probate, protects your privacy, and saves both time and money, making it a great fit for many individuals and families in their estate plan.
Living Trusts Avoid Probate
In order to transfer assets to their new owners under the terms of a will, the will must be probated, or go through the probate courts. This often requires the assistance of an experienced attorney, and there can be a lot of red tape to get through. Sometimes, the court will decide that the will is unclear or invalid and use state law to determine how to distribute your assets. By using a living trust, the transfer of assets is handled by a trustee and the probate court is not involved. Only assets not included in the trust would need to go through the court (this can be handled through something known as a “pour-over will”). As you’ll see below, avoiding probate has significant advantages to both you and your beneficiaries.
Living Trusts Protect Your Privacy
Did you know that a will becomes public record? When your will is probated, your last wishes, your assets, and your beneficiaries all become a matter of public record. A living trust, on the other hand, is entirely private and handled without the intervention of the court. The trust language and assets remain between you, your trustee, and your beneficiaries.
Living Trusts Save Time and Money
Probate court is expensive. And time-consuming. Probating a will can take months or even years, and the legal fees will continue to accumulate. This will reduce the amount of your estate–sometimes significantly. Because this all happens after you’re gone, your beneficiaries are the ones dealing with this expense, delay, and stress. Living trusts allow for the transfer of ownership immediately, so there’s no waiting, no court proceedings, and a lot more peace of mind. While a living trust can sometimes cost more upfront than a will (it is a much more specialized and technical legal document), the long-term savings will more than compensate.
If you are ready to learn how a living trust in your estate plan can help you, contact us at ProAdvocate Group. We are a membership association with expertise in making the law work for you and not against you.