A last will and testament and revocable living trust both provide a set of instructions for how your assets will be distributed after you pass away. Both legal documents have similarities and differences that should be considered before deciding which document to use. The creator can leave assets directly to a beneficiary or they can establish a trust in that person’s name. Both documents have similarities that can be easy to understand, however it is the differences that really distinguish the two. Below we discuss the differences and why one would prefer one document over the other.
During your lifetime, a will is easier and can be cheaper to prepare. It avoids the necessity of transferring all of your existing and after-acquired property to a living trust. A will has no effect until death and it avoids any trust management problems that may come up. After you have passed away, a judge supervises the process and ensures it proceeds according to law. Disputes may arise which can include anything between beneficiaries, the personal representative or the legitimacy of any debt. An objective process can extinguish any claims against you and your estate that is quick and fair to debtors and creditors.
A revocable living trust can provide asset management if you become disabled during your lifetime. It can also be easier to keep spouses’ property separate if they wish to do so, and maintain its non-community character. After you pass away, the necessity of a probate proceeding can be avoided as long as the necessary assets are titled in your trust name. Your estate plan and the administration of your estate are not open to public viewing and your beneficiaries are not entitled to disclose your estate plans because it pertains only to them. Since the privacy of your estate plan is increased, there is a reduced likelihood for a contest over the estate.
This is a brief breakdown of some of the key reasons for having one over the other, however the situation may not always be so black and white as presented. Your circumstances and needs may change, so having an attorney who knows what they are doing when the unexpected happens is extremely important to reduce the stress on you.
Contact us today at DAL Law Firm and let our experienced attorney assist you in creating the best estate plan to fit your needs. You can call or text us at 206-408-8158 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you today!