Wills and Revocable Living Trusts

The words tumble through your field of vision – Will, trust, POA, medical directive, guardian, executor; and if you are like many people these terms are little more than a word soup that induces unease or fear and makes you want to ignore your absent estate plan for yet another year. 

In my experience, the biggest hurdle people often feel about finally taking care of their estate plan is their anxiety about all of the unknowns. They are not sure what they need to do to get ready, or not sure what documents they need. Sometimes people seek refuge in trying to download documents from the internet, thinking it will save money and let them avoid interacting with a lawyer that they are sure will only scold them for not having done this already.

Each family is different and has different concerns about their estate planning. A good lawyer will take the time to listen to you, address your concerns and prepare an estate plan that is tailored to you and your family. Whether you choose a simple will or, opt for the privacy available in properly drawn, relatively simple trust provisions incorporated into a revocable trust. A proper estate plan must include a will or trust, power of attorney, medical directives and other instruments.

Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust:

A Revocable Living Trust will allow you to avoid probate for each spouse because all property in a revocable trust bypasses probate at the death of the creator of the trust. If spouses do a joint revocable living trust, they will avoid 2 probate processes. This can be a huge saving of time and money.

A Revocable Living Trust is great for the privacy of you and your familybecause with a trust, the entire asset transfer process stays private. Unlike in the probate of a traditional will, where the property passes through the probate estate and becomes part of the public record. And as probate records are increasingly moved online, your probate information is exposed in ways that you may not want. A Revocable Living Trust maintains privacy, which is increasingly important in the modern era as data mining can happen from anywhere in the world. 

A Revocable Living Trust will avoid multiple probates in multiple states.If you die holding property in several states, then your heirs may have to open a probate estate for the property in each one of the states where you have property. For instance, if you live in Georgia and have a small vacation place in North Carolina or Florida, your heirs will likely have to open probate in both states. You can save considerable time and money when a trust holds title to these properties, because probate would not be necessary in either state.

A Revocable Living Trust can be especially beneficial for Blended Families, as it helps to solve tricky distribution problems where each spouse brings property to the marriage, and children may include yours, mine and ours. This type of planning allows you to decide such distribution issues while both spouses are alive and able, rather than let the sequence of death decide which descendants get which assets. For instance, take a case where each spouse brings assets and children to the marriage. Each creates a trust and funds it with their assets. The trust could provide for lifetime support of the spouse, and then at the death of the surviving spouse distribution to the children of the grantor. Even if the surviving spouse were to remarry, the trust assets would be preserved for the grantor’s children.

A qualified attorney that listens to your concerns, gives you solid advice and prepares a plan that meets your needs will demystify the process and help you have the peace of mind that comes with finally getting your estate planning done and securing your family’s future in a way that you understand.

A word to the wise: Don’t try this on our own. Get properly qualified professional help.