Have you considered your estate planning wishes? If not, now is the time to begin contemplating what you want to have happen to your assets upon your death. While there are several factors to consider, one of the most important factors is the amount of money and property that you have. The more assets you have, the more issues that you must consider. Even if you are not wealthy, you still need to establish what you want to have happen to your assets. Not having a plan in place can result in a messy and lengthy probate process for your loved ones upon your death.
Will or a Living Trust?
Do you need a will or a living trust for your estate planning? When deciding the best solution for your situation, you need to consider your goals. There are times when choosing a living trust is a more prudent decision, but others in which that same decision would be a waste of time and expense.
What is a Will?
A will is a document written and signed by you, detailing where your assets will go upon your death. The signing of your will requires a witness to verify who prepared the will. Furthermore, a will is revocable at any time during your life.
What is a Living Trust?
A living trust, on the other hand, is a lifetime and after-death way to manage your property. While alive, you can be the administrator of your own trust and then make a successor for after your death. The benefits of a living trust are that your property can avoid probate upon your death, you can control what happens to your assets, and your personal business will not be made available for public consumption. However, if your assets have not been added to your living trust, then there is no protection for them.
Limited Property or Money
If you do not have many assets or much physical property, it is easier to have a will for your estate planning. A living trust costs money to initiate and is more complex to develop and operate. As a result, the overall requirements of a trust are not worth the extra time and expense in some cases.
Available Expedited Probate
Many states allow for an expedited probate process. When is that possible? You will have to check the requirements for your state to determine when your assets would be eligible for an expedited probate process. However, most states allow an expedited probate process if your assets are under a certain value. Therefore, in those instances, a will would be sufficient.
If you have minor children or grandchildren that you will be leaving assets to, then you may want to choose a living trust. On the other hand, if you are not giving them much, a living trust could be going overboard. Consequently, if you do not have minor children or grandchildren, then a will would likely cover your asset needs.
Lastly, when a property is transferred between people, there can be a requirement for estate taxes to be paid. However, if your property value is under the estate tax threshold, a will may work for you. On the other hand, if your property values are above the established threshold and you want your loved ones to avoid estate taxes, then you should establish a living trust. Subsequently, you must check with the IRS to determine if your property would be impacted by estate taxes.
If you want to avoid making your family deal with probate laws over your estate planning, you must be aware of your state’s probate laws. There are steps you can take to keep most of your property out of probate. If you need expert advice to guide you through the process of navigating estate planning laws, contact us at the Law Offices of John L. Schettino. We are an experienced law firm. Contact us today.