The idea of not creating a will may seem startling, even unwise. However, a revocable living trust can often serve as a substitute document, standing instead of a will. Why would someone choose a revocable trust over the tried-and-true traditional will? There are a few key reasons to consider a living trust, and a few other reasons why you might want to stick with a will. Explore the pros and cons to see which version might work for your situation.
Pro: Potentially Avoiding Probate Court
In certain cases, a revocable living trust can help your heirs avoid probate court. Probate court is not necessarily something to be dreaded, but it can sometimes be a lengthy process, one that your loved ones would just as soon avoid. If you own real estate in multiple states, a well-worded, professionally drafted revocable living trust is vital, or your heirs may be subjected to two or more probate court proceedings, depending on the number of out-of-state properties you own.
Pro: Maintaining Privacy
Probate information is public, which means that anyone has access to the files and information. Most likely, no one will care to browse through the file on your estate’s probate proceeding; but if you want to ensure your privacy and that of your heirs, you can create a revocable living trust instead of a will. As long as the trust is properly handled by an expert estate planning lawyer, there is no need to go through probate, and your private affairs will stay private.
Pro: Developing a More Streamlined, Organized Estate
Setting up a revocable living trust forces you to take action, sort through your property and assets, and transfer their titles and ownership to the trust. Often, taking these steps means that you and your estate become more organized. You’ll be better able to understand and care for all your property, and you may find elements of the estate that you want to sell or otherwise consolidate to make things easier for you and your heirs.
Con: Taking On More Work Yourself
Unfortunately, creating and funding a revocable living trust means a lot more work for you. Instead of leaving your heirs to handle probate and other matters, as you would with a will, you have to deal with everything up front, and you have to go through the busywork of transferring assets and changing titles. You don’t have to do this alone, however. Hire a capable estate planning attorney in Maryland and join forces to set up a perfectly worded, impeccably funded revocable trust.
Con: Paying More in Advance
Along with all that work on the trust comes a financial price tag. However, if you compare the amount you spend setting up the trust with the amount your heirs would have spent processing your will after your death, you may find that you end up saving money overall.
Con: The Need for a Pour-Over Will
Even if you set up a revocable trust, you will still need a will. The will is typically called a “pour-over will,” because it contains wording to ensure that any assets not already in the trust are “poured over,” or placed into the trust, when you pass away.
Are you still unsure which of the two options to choose? Set up an appointment with your estate planning lawyer to talk about your unique situation and how these pros and cons affect you. Once you get your attorney’s advice and perspective, choose an option and create your estate plan right away.
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About Nicole K. White
After losing a close relative, Nicole witnessed the devastation, enormous expense and chaos caused by not having a simple estate plan. It is Nicole’s mission to educate single adults and parents, especially single parents, about protecting themselves, their families, minor children, and assets with comprehensive Estate Planning.