Which is best for you, a Will or a Trust?

At one time people set up a trust primarily for the reason to save on taxes. But even if your estate is not taxable (because your estate is worth less than the state and federal tax exemptions) there are reasons why a trust may be right for you. At a minimum everyone needs a will.

A trust specifies what to do with your property upon your passing. A trust works similarly like a Will except that distribution can be made directly from the trust without the involvement of the courts and what is known as the "probate process." Probate is not only time consuming but an additional expense as well. It is important to note, however, that even with a trust what is known as a "pour over will" is also essential. This is because a trust is funded by assets, but what about your stamp collection? Perhaps you own a treasured heir loom or jewelry? Items such as these "pour over" into the trust, as the two documents work in tandem to serve the intentions specified therein.

Also, no two trust documents are alike. If you have specific circumstances, such as a disabled child that you want to ensure is taken care of a specified way and with specific directions, these directions can be made clear with proper drafting in a trust. Perhaps you have children from a prior marriage and want to ensure that your children receive their proper inheritance, and not the children of your spouse. There is a special type of trust that must be drafted with specific provisions to achieve this purpose. Often clients are concerned with the spending habits of their children, or are concerned that the spouse of a child may reap all of the benefits of the inheritance.

Another concern often is creditors and protecting assets of a would be inheritance from attachment. A trust properly drafted to protect assets and inheritance is necessitated in circumstances such as these. It is by consultation and careful discussion with an attorney experienced and knowledgeable in Estate Planning issues that the proper recommendations will be made.

It is important to note that often the most valued and important asset to a family is their home. If a family is planning on living in their home for some time and most of their "estate" value is their home, then a trust is most often recommended if the ultimate plan is to leave the home to the children upon the passing of both spouses.

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