End of Life
Choosing a Living Trust or Last Will
With regards to funeral estate planning, the two most widely recognized documents used to pass along a person’s final wishes are a Last Will and Living Trust. Most Estate Planning Attorneys consider Living Trusts (commonly referred to as a Revocable Living Trusts) to be a more effective estate planning tool versus Wills (commonly referred to as your Last Will and Testament).
The reality is that creating a Will can often be just as effective as creating a Living Trust, provided it is drafted properly and coordinated and integrated along with the rest of you funeral and financial planning.
The main reason most Estate Planning Attorneys and families choose to utilize Living Trusts rather than Wills is because, if they are properly established and funded, they are better suited to avoid the many disadvantages of probate.
A Trust, if drafted by a seasoned Estate Planning Attorneys, can be a comprehensive document that will allow you to avoid many of the challenges when handling funeral estate planning.
Key Advantages of a Living Trust:
» Can help to avoid the probate process
» It is extremely hard to contest
» Can potentially reduce or eliminate estate taxes
» Will preserve your privacy
» Expedite the distribution of your estate
» Allows parents of small children to give specific instructions to the Trustee or Guardians as to when to make distributions to the children, what they can use the money for, and at what ages to begin letting the children have control over some (or all) of the monies
» Many other challenges such as special needs, special instructions, end of life planning, multiple marriage situations, etc.
Which is Better…Wills or Living Trusts?
The reality is the best answer is “It depends“. Nobody can advise you the exact answer to this question, simply because choosing between a Will or a Trust is largely determined by each families unique personal situation. Therefore, as with any decision that is extremely important to your financial future, which should include your end of life planning, the best way to make the right choice is to seek the help of a qualified and credible Estate Planning Attorney who can help you determine whether a Will or a Trust makes the most sense.
Creating a Financial Planning and Estate Planning Team
We strongly recommend that every family works closely together with both Financial Advisors and Estate Planning Attorneys when determining the most appropriate wealth transfer strategy. This coordination can ensure that, whether you create a Will or a Living Trust, two key goals are accomplished:
- This all-important document is established properly and efficiently
- Your funeral planning and estate plan are properly coordinated and integrated with your overall financial plan
Needless to say, the perfect estate plan does not happen by chance, but rather through proper planning and preparation. Therefore, when it comes to your financial and funeral estate planning needs, that are two important goals. First, be proactive and take the first step towards accomplishing this plan, which is seeking help. Second, find a team of qualified and credible financial professionals.
By knowing these plans are in place, you will sleep much better at night, knowing you have created this all-important gift for your family!
If you have not yet started the process of creating your funeral estate plan, or if your current estate plan is outdated or needs to be revised, please contact an Estate Planning Attorney.