Death is an uncomfortable subject, but it’s an important one to talk about. It’s a given that everyone should have a legal document dictating the division of their assets upon death. But the question is, do you really need a will, or is there another option? There is – but it might not be for everyone.
While most people think of a will as the document to distribute assets upon death, there are also living trusts. Only about 20 percent of Americans have living trusts. Should you?
There are certain benefits of living trusts you might not find if you have a will. A living trust is a written legal document that allows you to place your assets in a trust that you can benefit from during your lifetime, but is then transferred to your designated beneficiaries upon death through your chosen representative, or successor trustee.
Why consider a living trust instead of a will? For one, living trusts avoid the complexities of probate. Probate can delay the process of distribution of assets to your heirs, sometimes for months or years. Living trusts can bring that time down to a few weeks.
Living trusts may also save you money, depending on your financial situation. At first, a living trust may be more expensive because it is a more complex document and can involve complications regarding life insurance, retirement plans and more. But by avoiding probate and the court costs related to it, in the end, the cost may be lower for your estate.
Lastly, living trusts preserve privacy, while wills are publicly accessible.
As with any aspect of estate planning, your best bet is to discuss your case with an attorney.