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Whether a living trust is better for you than a will depends on whether the additional alternatives it provides are worth the cost.

You have worked hard for your money and made every attempt to be a conscientious saver. So it’s only natural that you want some control over what takes place in your assets once you pass away. Even if you are someone of modest means, you have an estate. So, you should have an estate plan, a strategy to make sure your assets are distributed in line with your needs, and a well-timed style.

The proper approach relies on your situation. For some, a living trust can be a practical and useful tool. For others, it might be a waste of time and money.

What Is a Will?

A will is a written document that shows how your property will be distributed at the time of your death. It is revocable and subject to amendment at any time during your lifetime. It also allows you to designate a guardian for your minor children. 

What Is a Living Trust?

A living trust provides lifetime and after-death assets management. If you’re serving as your own trustee, the living trust will offer a successor upon your death or disability. Court intervention is not required.

Livings trusts also are used to manage the property. If a person is disabled by calamity or illness, the successor trustee can manage the trust property. As a result, the cost, publicity, and inconvenience of court-supervised distribution of your estate may be avoided.

If a living trust consider is properly written and funded you can:

  • Avoid probate to your property.
  • Plan for the possibility of your own incapacity.
  • Control what happens to your assets after you pass away. 
  • Use it for any size estate.
  • Prevent your economic affairs from becoming a rely on public record.

While trust sounds attractive, there are drawbacks.

A living trust only can control those assets that have been placed into it. The funding process is required but can be tiresome. If your assets have not been transferred or if you die without funding the trust, the trust will be of no benefit as your estate will still be subject to probate and there may be significant state estate tax issues.

Will vs. Living Trust Considerations

There are many good reasons to set up a living trust however do not forget the fact that it’ll involve extra effort and expense. To decide if you ought to make the extra effort and invest in the expense of a living trust, answer those questions:

Is informal probate an available option? Most states have an expedited or simplified form of probate for estates below a certain dollar threshold (that dollar value varies by state). If your estate could pass beneath an expedited form of probate, or in case you live in a state wherein probate is not a complex or burdensome procedure, a will could be suitable.

Will you actively manage your estate plan? If not, a living trust won’t be an appropriate solution. Again, a trust will only be useful if assets are transferred into it.

So which is best for you? In many respects, a living trust and a will accomplish similar objectives. A trust, however, allows you to realize other goals that a will cannot. But those advantages don’t come without a price. Whether or not a trust is more suitable for you than a will depends on whether the extra benefits are worth the expense. When deciding, keep in mind that one size does not fit all. What is proper for one person might not be proper for every person. Your estate plan must be prepared in a way that best meets the wishes of you and your loved ones.