Most people think wills or trusts are only for the rich whose assets may start a small war among possible heirs when a rich person dies. The truth is, if you have anything at all to leave your loved ones when you die, you should have an avenue for making sure their inheritance reaches them immediately. It could be a house, a collector’s edition Mustang, some jewelry, or even a retirement fund and a few thousand dollars in the bank. What matters is you know your heirs get what you’re leaving them. The big question is should you get a will or a trust?
Wills have been popular for ages, thanks to their “use” in movies and TV shows. They used to be the only option, too. Your estate-planning attorney in Denver may also tell you that wills are less costly than trusts, but remind you that they only initially cost less.
Wills typically involve going to probate, which is the legal process of determining whether the will is valid and authentic. Probate also involves how the contents of the will takes place. The executor or administrator (if you die without a will or trust) will collect the assets, pay off any liabilities of the deceased, and then divide what’s left among the beneficiaries. A will is a public record.
Trusts are not a matter of public record, and although a disgruntled heir may still choose to contest a trust it is harder for them to win the case. Your trust can take effect even while you’re alive and healthy.
Name yourself the trustee so you can control and manage your assets yourself and determine when your beneficiaries will receive them (it doesn’t have to be immediately upon your death). Active management of your assets is also more affordable than passive management. A living trust has state and federal tax advantages, as well. The best part is, it doesn’t go through probate, which means you are the real determiner of who gets what even before your death.
Whatever you do, get a lawyer. Do not get one of those DIY trusts online. Those will get your estate in trouble, if anything. Only a lawyer has the qualification to do these things, so whatever you spend on your trust is going to be worth it when your assets will go to their rightful heirs.