By Robert Chang, Esq
An estate plan is not a one size fits all endeavor. A quality professional attorney can give you the guidance you need to make the right decisions regarding your property. Some people consult with an attorney, and then get assistance from a legal document preparer to draft the documents in order to save on costs. Two of the most common estate planning tools are the will and the living trust.
The difference between the two is subtle – the will is a written document with instructions to your survivors regarding the distribution of your property. In order for it to be effective, it has to be witnessed and signed by the person creating the will.
A living trust property management and provides for someone to take care of your property after your death. Ordinarily, the process goes through what is called probate, and the court appoints someone to manage your affairs. Because courts are conservative and want to make sure that someone trustworthy is handling it, they oftentimes appoint professionals like lawyers or accountants who charge high fees. As a result, the costs of probate can be staggering, and oftentimes is an unnecessary process. Unlike most trusts, you still manage the property in your living trust while you are still alive. Similar to a will, you can change it or revoke at any time. However, once you have passed away, it becomes irrevocable.
A living trust is much more flexible than a will, but it is also more expensive. Most estate plans have both a will and a trust, and each works in tandem with the other. However, if you have property such as a retirement plan or a home, a living trust is usually a good idea as it can save your loved ones tens of thousands of dollars in court and professional fees.
Some things to consider when planning your estate is whether or not you have minor children, or children with special needs. In those instances, something more may be required. Also, tax consequences can sometimes wag the dog, and if the value of your estate is too great, it will be necessary to consult with someone who is also well versed in tax law to make sure that the government doesn’t take a large sum from your estate just because of the way your assets were transferred.
All in all, the Living Trust is better than a will, although having both is usually recommended. However, that should be the bare minimum you do to plan for your death.
Contact DP LEGAL SOLUTIONS for a comprehensive Living Trust Package or a Will Package to safeguard your family. Call us at 510.346.5686 to make an appointment or you can easily make appointment online at our website at www.dplegalsolutions.com