If you’re considering how your assets will be distributed upon your deat, two of the most common estate planning vehicles you will hear about are wills and trusts. But, what are they, and which is best? Today, Franklin based estate planning attorney Trent Linville offers a quick summary of each and touches on the pros and cons of both options.
What Is A Will?
A will is an estate planning document that transfers ownership of designated assets to specific beneficiaries upon your death. Assets are typically categorized in two ways: probate assets and non-probate assets. Wills transfer assets that are considered probate assets, but an experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand how your assets would be categorized. Creating a will is a fairly straightforward process, but it is not without its flaws. Upon your death, your assets will go into a court process known as probate. This can last for up to one year, is typically costly, and your family is unable to access their inheritance until this public process is complete.
What Is A Trust?
A revocable living trust is a more streamlined procedure to determine what happens to your financial assets. A major benefit of a trust is that it allows your inheritors to avoid probate. Further, you can appoint a designated trustee to take control of the trust if you become incapacitated. This is beneficial if you wish to avoid the court appointing a potentially undesirable person to be in charge of your finances if you, for example, experience dementia or are critically injured and unable to communicate your wishes. Because establishing a trust requires more initial work than a will, an estate planning attorney can handle the process for you to make it as streamlined and simple as possible.
Which Is Best?
Wills and trusts are equally beneficial. However, the choice between the two comes down to your goals.
You might choose a trust if:
- You wish asset allocation to be private – wills are public documents
- You don’t mind paying more upfront so that your family can avoid the more expensive cost of probate
- You have assets in different states
- You want to set guidelines for how your family inherits your assets
A will might be a better option if you:
- Wish for a simplified process
- Don’t have the funds available to create a trust
- Have heirs that can cover court costs and attorney fees
- Have fewer probate assets
The decision between the two is a personal choice, and some people have both. The best way to decide between them is to sit down with your estate planning attorney and discuss your needs, concerns, and goals. Remember, each has benefits, but there are subtle nuances that might make one a better option than the other.
Trent Linville, PLLC, is an estate planning attorney based out of Franklin, TN, and proudly serves families throughout Nashville, Brentwood, Spring Hill, Columbia, Nolensville and the surrounding areas.