As of 2021, 46% of Americans have a will. However, while many Americans have no plans for when they pass away, some Americans have chosen a trust over a will. There are several advantages to choosing this.
How a Trust Differs From a Will
With a will, you will still be in control of your assets until you pass away. The will simply clarifies how your assets will be divided. With a trust, unless it is a revocable trust, you will not have access to it and will be able to continue to use it while you're still alive.
With a trust, there is no probate, and this will give you some level of privacy. The assets will be immediately transferred upon your death. With a will, there is still a probate process. However, the probate process is more likely to go in the direction you want it to go.
Why You Need a Will and Trust Lawyer
Every situation is different, and you will need advice from an experienced will and trust lawyer who can help you understand the pros and cons of each choice and how it will affect your individual situation. For example, if you are concerned over who will have custody of your children, you may want to clarify this in your will.
You will also need help from a will and trust lawyer to make sure that your will is not contested. If your will surprises your loved ones, they might think that you were not of sound mind or were under duress when you wrote your will. If there is a legal reason, your will might be contested after you pass away.
Trusts Are More Expensive But Might Be Worth It
In both cases, you will want to hire a lawyer. However, a trust is generally more expensive upfront. You may pass more money on to the beneficiaries though thanks to the tax benefits that come from a trust.
You are able to avoid estate taxes with your trust by making a charitable donation. You can give away some of your wealth using a charitable lead trust or a charitable remainder trust. You may also create an irrevocable life trust that is not taxable. the downside to this trust is that it can increase the size of your estate to such an extent that it may lead to you being subjected to estate taxes.
Talk to a will and trust law attorney to create your estate plan.