Many people equate estate planning with the creation of a last will. In fact, most individuals would be better served by utilizing a revocable living trust. In this post, we will share five compelling reasons why you should use a living trust instead of a will.
1. Probate Avoidance
You may have watched a movie or a television show that depicted a scene taking place after a funeral. People gather at someone’s home after the service. Certain individuals are then called into the study for the “reading of the will.” The implication is that the executor will read the will. Shortly thereafter, the executor would distribute the assets to the heirs.
In the real world, things do not work in this manner. When someone passes away utilizing a will, the executor cannot administer the estate independently. The will must be admitted to probate. The probate court provides supervision during the estate administration process.
Probate can take nine months to a year to run its course. During this time, your heirs cannot receive their inheritance. It is also costly, because numerous expenses accumulate, including legal fees, the executor’s fees, accounting and appraisal charges, and a filing fee.
Privacy is also lost during probate, because it is a public proceeding, and records are available to the general public.
If you use a living trust instead of a last will, all of these pitfalls are avoided. The trustee would be able to distribute assets to the beneficiaries directly, and the probate process would not be an issue.
2. Incapacity Planning
When you establish a revocable living trust, you can act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are living. You name successors to assume these roles after you pass away. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of senior citizens become unable to handle their own affairs at some point in their life.
To account for this, you could name a disability trustee to administer the trust in the event of your incapacity. This can be successor trustee or you can name someone else to serve as a disability trustee.
3. Consolidation of Assets
When you use a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan, things are simple and streamlined for the trustee. If you convey all the property that will comprise your estate into the living trust, it will be easy for the trustee to distribute resources. A will, on the other hand, requires the executor to spend time and effort identifying and inventorying all of the assets.
4. Spendthrift Protections
If you use a last will to state your final wishes with regard to the distribution of your assets, the inheritors would receive lump sum inheritances. This can be a cause of concern if you have doubts about the money management capabilities of an heir or heirs.
Things are entirely different if you utilize a revocable living trust instead of a will. You can instruct the trustee to distribute assets on an incremental basis.
For example, you have rental property you conveyed into the trust that earns $5000 a month income. In the trust declaration, you instruct your trustee to distribute this $5000 to a beneficiary each month. You can also instruct this person to distribute larger, lump sums when the beneficiary reaches certain age thresholds.
One of the great things about a living trust is that you have total flexibility. It is revocable, so if you ever choose to do so, you can dissolve it entirely. As we have stated, you can act as the trustee and beneficiary while you are alive and well. After you create your trust, you can add additional property to it, or change the terms at any time.
Schedule a Consultation!
Now that you know a little bit about living trusts, you may want to take the next step. If you schedule a consultation at our Oklahoma estate planning office, we will share more of the details and answer all of your questions.
You can set the wheels in motion right now if you send us a message through our contact page, and we can be reached by phone at 405-843-6100.