Should You Create a Living Trust or Only a Will?

Does your estate plan call for only a will, or could you benefit from creating a revocable living trust as well? How do you know which is a better option for you? Read the following questions to learn the benefits of each estate plan.

Do You Need to Avoid Probate?

After death, any property named in a will, or property not named in a will or trust, goes through probate court, a system to help your beneficiaries wrap up your affairs. The court acts as a legal guide and helps divide your property among the appropriate beneficiaries. Depending on your debt, assets, and property, it can take time to process everything through probate and cost a pretty penny in court and legal fees.

Whether or not a certain item or property is included in a will, it must go through probate. At this time, the court will analyze your remaining financial debts and decide if the asset in question should be sold to pay for said debts. If the beneficiaries want to keep the property, they may become responsible for paying the debts the property would otherwise be used to pay off. In this way, wills can act as guidance for the distribution of property but are still subject to the court.

If you are looking to avoid a lengthy probate hearing, a living trust may be a beneficial option. Any property named in a living trust is distributed without court interference, which saves time and money. However, any property not named in a living trust must still go through probate. Because of this, many people include a “pour-over” clause in their will to ensure all of their remaining property goes to the appropriate beneficiary.

Do You Want the Details of Your Property to Remain Private?

During probate, your will becomes public record. Anyone may read it and know exactly what property you owned and who you left it to.

If you have a living trust, only the beneficiaries are legally obliged to see the formal documents. None of the property information in your living trust will go through probate, and therefore will not become public information.

Do You Have Young Children?

As you cannot designate guardianship in a living trust, you must do so in your will. A will allows you to entrust a caregiver and distribute assets to your children. Unless the estate holder promises to maintain the property until the child is 18 years old, you cannot appoint your child as a beneficiary of your living trust.

Do I Still Need a Will if I Create a Living Trust?

Estate planning requires you to consider all assets and property in your name and make proper arrangements for them. As living trusts do not include any information regarding your final wishes, and may not include every piece of property that you own, you should create a will to cover all of your bases.

Our Okemos Attorneys Can Help Create a Solid Estate Plan

Whether you are considering adding a living trust to your estate plan or simply want help creating a will, our Okemos estate planning lawyers can help you through the entire legal process. We have experience creating living trusts, simple and complex wills, and even litigating for clients in probate. With the help of our compassionate team at White Law PLLC, you can create an estate plan that meets your needs.

We work with clients in Okemos, Lansing, Ingham County, and all across Michigan. Schedule a free consultation today with White Law PLLC: (517) 316-1195.