The matter of estate planning is more involved than simply drawing up a last will, and this is something to keep in mind. You will see websites trying to tell you that you can plan your own estate by simply filling in the blanks of a generic template document that they are all too willing to sell you. But the reality is that each case is unique and a last will is not the only way that you can arrange for the transfer of assets to your loved ones after you pass away.And, for many it’s certainly not the best way to plan an estate.
Another very popular choice is the revocable living trust. The reason why most people who go this route decide to do so is because they want to avoid probate. Probate is time consuming, and your heirs do not receive their inheritances until the estate has been probated and closed. How time consuming is it? That depends on the complexity of your estate and whether or not there are any will challenges. It can routinely take close to a year or even multiple years in some instances. For many people this is unacceptable.
Probate is also costly, consuming perhaps 5% of your estate, sometimes even more. Plus, it is a public proceeding that affords people who may want to challenge your will with the opportunity to do so. This is another big reason many prefer to avoid probate.
Established correctly, the revocable living trust minimizes the possibility of will challenges. It allows for a smooth and expedient transfer of assets outside of the sometimes plodding process of probate. And, from both personal experience and from counseling thousands of clients, I know for a fact that establishing a revocable living trust and avoiding probate saves the family an enormous amount of pain, headache, angst, and even resentment during a time when they should be focused on their loved one who has passed.