When it comes to estate planning, there’s a lot to consider. In addition to deciding who to leave your assets to after you pass, you must determine which estate planning instruments are the most appropriate for your unique situation. In this article, we examine the differences between a will and a living trust. In addition, we discuss what you should consider when deciding which of these two documents to include in your estate plan.
What is a will?
A will is an estate planning document that dictates how your property will be distributed when you pass away. A will is revocable, subject to amendment during your lifetime, and allows you to appoint a guardian for your minor children.
What is a living trust?
A living trust is an estate planning document created during your lifetime that gives a trustee the responsibility of managing your assets for the benefit of your beneficiaries. With a living trust, you may either serve as your own trustee during your lifetime or appoint someone else to do so. If you serve as your own trustee, you must designate a person to assume this role upon your death or incapacity. A living trust allows you to:
- avoid probate,
- plan for the possibility of incapacity,
- determine what will happen to your property after you pass away, and
- prevent your financial affairs from becoming public record.
Things to consider
There are many things to consider when determining whether a will or living trust is the best option for you, including:
Expense: A living trust is more expensive to establish and maintain than a will. However, a living trust provides more flexibility than a will.
Probate options: Many states offer an expedited or simplified form of probate for estates under a certain dollar amount. If your estate qualifies, or if you live in a state where probate is not overly expensive or burdensome, a will may be appropriate.
Management: If you don’t plan on actively managing your estate plan, a living trust may not be an appropriate option for you.
Personal preference: Wills and living trusts are similar in many respects. And while a trust offers some additional benefits, these benefits don’t come without a price. When determining whether a living trust is the right choice for you, you ultimately must determine whether the additional advantages are worth the price. Remember, when it comes to estate planning, one size does not fit all!
Contact a Florida and New York estate planning attorney
If you’re ready to begin planning for the future, you need an experienced Florida and New York estate planning attorney on your side. At the Law Office of Angela Siegel, we provide comprehensive estate planning services to people in Florida and New York. Attorney Angela Siegel is a highly experienced estate planning attorney, and she routinely helps clients in Florida and New York with their estate planning needs. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.