There are many estate planning guides telling you that you must have a will or that trusts are the best estate planning tool. With so much conflicting information, how do you decide what's best for you? The truth is, that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on your specific needs. Here is what you need to consider.
Ease of Setup
Wills are the easiest estate planning documents to create. A basic will can be drafted in under an hour.
By contrast, trusts take extra work. This is because in addition to spelling out who gets what from the trust, you also need to transfer property that's going to be held in the trust so that it's officially owned by the trust.
Because of the added work involved, trusts are typically going to be more expensive to set up.
Ease of Execution
After you pass away, the processes for executing a will and a trust are completely separate and very different.
A trust is designed so that it is automatically executed. When you transferred the property to set up the trust, you already transferred ownership. The beneficiary of the trust will automatically switch from being you to the person you designated upon your death. They will then have instant access to the trust property.
By contrast, a will must go through the probate court. A judge will need to check the will's validity and then ensure that your executor follows the will's provisions. This process could take weeks or even months depending on how complicated the will was.
Need to Update
All estate planning documents should be regularly revisited to account for life changes like new members of the family or significant changes in wealth. However, the needs for wills and trusts are different.
Wills are often set up to divide your estate proportionally. If you acquire additional property, it is simply divided according to the original will.
Trusts, however, hold specific assets. Any new assets will need to be added to the trust to be covered by the trust.
If you had a certain level of wealth, you may be subject to an estate tax. This tax typically only applies to assets held within a will and not to assets held within a trust.
To learn more about whether a will or trust is better for your estate planning needs, talk to a local estate planning attorney, such as those at Bayer Jerger & Underwood, today.