Planning Your Estate? Take a Look at Your Options

Planning Your Estate? Take a Look at Your Options

Planning your estate is the best way to make sure your family and friends are all cared for after your death. Nobody likes thinking about their death, and nobody likes to really consider what will happen to everything they’ve built up for themselves and their loved ones over the years: It doesn’t make for pleasant reading.

However unpleasant thinking about your death might be, it’s important to accept it, move on, and get planning – because, as an estate planning lawyer can explain, it’s never too soon to start thinking about wills and trusts. But are you caught up on the differences between wills and trusts? Read on to learn more about how they can affect your estate plan.

Wills vs. Trusts

Wills and trusts both serve the same purpose. They are both lists of your assets (everything you own, from collections to properties and investments), and they both provide a list of your beneficiaries so your assets can be distributed amongst whoever you want. While wills and trusts share many similarities, there are many differences to keep in mind as well.

The biggest difference between wills and trusts is probate. If you create a will, you’re providing your family and friends with a list of what you own, and who gets what. However, the process through which your will is authenticated and executed takes time, patience, and plenty of money set aside for fees and taxes. This process is called probate, and it can be a headache.

Probate requires probate court, and over the course of probate, everyone listed in your will – and people who weren’t – can all interrupt the proceedings to fight for their share of your estate, whether you want them to get anything or not. Your will should name an executor, a trusted individual in charge of handling the probate process. However, some people might want to challenge the executor and have him or her removed.

Probate also takes many steps. Your executor will have to track down all your beneficiaries and all your assets, and he or she will also have to contact experts who will value all the assets you’re leaving behind. This costs money, and that’s not the only price your beneficiaries will have to pay: There’s also the matter of taxes and funerary expenses on top of everything else.

There is a positive to just creating a will and leaving it at that. When you make a will, you don’t have to actively manage it. It’s easy for you, but definitely more complicated for your family and friends to deal with after your death. This is in stark contrast to your other estate planning option: living trusts.

If you choose to create a living trust, you’re sparing your family and friends a lot of argumentation, drama, and infighting. However, a living trust requires much more hands-on involvement. When you creat a living trust, you’re naming a third party to handle your estate after your death. This has a (very big) bonus of avoiding probate altogether, which gives your beneficiaries a much easier time of getting whatever you’ve left behind for them.

Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Today

Wills and trusts both have their pros and cons, but everyone’s situation is different. If you want to take steps to plan your future while ensuring the best future possible for your loved ones, get in touch with a qualified estate planning lawyer to learn more about your options.