Estate planning is a critical aspect of securing your legacy. It involves making thoughtful decisions about who will inherit your assets and how you can protect them. In the world of estate planning, two tools often stand at the forefront: the living trust and the will. Though both serve important roles, a living trust holds several advantages over a will.
Living Trust Benefits
The first advantage lies in the living trust’s ability to avoid probate. Probate is the legal process that would be necessary if you use a will to transfer assets. The executor that is named in the document takes care of the hands-on administration tasks, and the court provides supervision. This process is lengthy, expensive, and public, often leading to unnecessary stress for your loved ones. A living trust, on the other hand, bypasses the probate process, allowing for a faster, more private, and typically less costly transfer of assets.
Secondly, a living trust provides greater control over your assets. With a trust, you can specify when and how your beneficiaries receive their inheritance. This is particularly useful if you want to protect your assets from being squandered, or if your beneficiaries are minors or individuals with special needs.
Lastly, a living trust safeguards you in case of incapacity. If you become unable to manage your affairs due to a serious illness or accident, your successor trustee can step in and manage the trust assets on your behalf. A will, however, does not provide this benefit.
You would be the trustee while you are living, so you would maintain total control of the assets, and you name a successor trustee. This person or entity will manage your trust after your passing or incapacity, and their role is both an honor and a responsibility. Here are some tips for making this important decision:
1.) Consider Their Abilities and Skills: Managing a trust requires time, effort, and a good understanding of financial matters. Your successor trustee should be organized, responsible, and capable of making wise decisions.
2.) Evaluate Their Integrity: Your successor trustee should be someone you trust implicitly. They should be honest, reliable, and likely to carry out your wishes faithfully.
3.) Think About Their Age and Health: Your successor trustee should ideally be younger and in good health. This increases the chances that they will be able to perform their duties when the time comes.
4.) Ponder the Impact on Family Dynamics: Choosing one family member over others can lead to resentment or disputes. Consider appointing a neutral party, such as a trusted friend or a professional trustee, to avoid potential family conflicts.
5.) Professional Trustees: If your estate is complex, or if you don’t have a suitable individual to act as your successor trustee, consider a professional trustee. Banks and trust companies offer these services, bringing expertise and neutrality to the role. However, they do charge for their services, so you’ll need to weigh the costs and benefits.
Summing It Up
In conclusion, a living trust provides numerous advantages over a will in estate planning, notably in avoiding probate, offering more control over asset distribution, and providing protection in case of incapacity. When setting up your living trust, choosing the right successor trustee is vital. This person or entity needs to be capable, trustworthy, and ideally, positioned to minimize any potential conflict within the family.
With the right planning and advice, a living trust can offer peace of mind, knowing that your legacy is secure, and your loved ones are well cared for going forward.
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We can help if you would like to work with a Phoenix, Arizona estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place, and we can also update your existing plan if revisions are necessary. When you work with our firm, you will feel comfortable from the start, and will always be available in the future whenever you need added assistance.
You can schedule a consultation if you give us a call at 888-222-1328, and you can use our contact form if you would prefer to send us a message.
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