With so many estate planning decisions to make, it can be difficult to put this behind you once and for all. Just when you think you have everything in order, you wonder if another approach would be better for you and your family.
On the most basic level, you need to decide if a will or living trust is right for your estate plan. If you are looking for simple, a will may be the way to go. This allows you to finish the process in a time efficient manner, realizing that you have done something good for you and your family.
Conversely, a living trust takes more of your time and money. That being said, you get a lot in return. For example, property held in the trust does not have to go through probate. Subsequently, your family will avoid a lot of stress and hassle once you pass on.
How to Make a Final Decision
At some point, you need to make a list of the pros and cons associated with both a will and living trust. This is the best way to see what each approach has to offer. It is also the best way to take another step towards a final decision.
If you are tired of sitting on your hands, if you know that you need to make a choice in the near future, there are a few things you can do to speed up the process.
Before we go any further, consider this: consult with an estate planning attorney. This is one of the best ways to learn more about wills and living trusts. Your legal professional can provide you with advice based on your personal situation.
If you are interested in learning more on your own, hopefully to make a decision sooner rather than later, there are a few important questions you need to address. These include the following:
- Is probate really that big of a deal? This may not be something that bothers you, since you will be gone, but it definitely comes into play for your loved ones. Make sure you fully understand what probate entails in your state.
- Do you have minor children? When you establish a trust, you have the option to specify when a child will receive any of the assets you are holding in it for him or her. This gives you some level of control even after you are gone. For many, this also gives them peace of mind.
- What do you know about estate taxes? Here is what you need to do: determine if the value of your estate is more than the current estate tax threshold. If you find that it is, it may be time to setup a trust with one eye towards tax planning. This may help your heirs avoid taxes upon your death.
- Are you okay with the idea of actively managing your estate plan? When you create a will, you don’t have to do much else for the rest of your life. You may want to review it from time to time for changes, but that is about it. With a living trust, however, you need to be much more active. This is a hands on approach to estate planning, as you will always be considering if you should transfer assets into the trust.
In an overall sense, a will and living trust accomplish the same goals. The difference is in the approach. Now that you have a better idea of how to choose between a will and living trust, you can make up your mind as to which option is best for you now and your family in the future.
Do you have concerns about making a mistake? If so, you don’t want to do anything until you are 100 percent confident in your knowledge of estate planning. You can download our report entitled “Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Wills and Living Trusts” for a better idea of what you should be avoiding during this time.
It doesn’t matter if you want to create a will or living trust, this is not a DIY project. This is something you need to discuss with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney. Contact Attorney Stephanie Thompson at 608-824-9540 for your free consultation. We Listen, We Care, We Get Results!!
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