Estate planning is a complex and highly personalized process (at least it should be), and that means that no two estate plans are exactly the same. However, there are similarities and generalized information that one can use to determine which estate planning option may be most appropriate for their situation.
Consider, for example, the comparison of a will and living trust. Each strategy works the same, regardless of your situation, but your situation may warrant that you use one document or the other. Also, there may be certain scenarios in which both strategies are needed. Learn more about when this may occur, and discover how our seasoned estate planning lawyers can assist you in developing an estate plan that suits your needs.
Comparing Wills and Living Trusts
Although wills and living trusts both allow you to name beneficiaries and designate where assets will go upon your death, they do so in very different ways. Wills communicate your wishes upon your death, and they do not typically require you to do anything extra; you simply need to create it, register it, and ensure that loved ones know where to find a copy.
Living trusts can also designate assets and identify trustees, but you have more control over when and how the assets are assigned. For example, you can transfer your home to a beneficiary before your death, rather than after your death, to help them avoid probate after your death. Using a living trust over a will could also result in a more expedient transfer of property to the beneficiary. In short, living trusts can reduce the legal costs and delays that are often associated with probate over a contested will.
When Both May Be Needed
While most parties need only a will or living trust, there are certain situations that may warrant both. If, for example, you have assets that do not have value (i.e. items of sentiment, pets, etc.) that you want to go to a specific beneficiary, a will can help you do that. However, if you also have substantial assets that could go to probate, you may still need a living will to protect your beneficiary from the resulting delays and legal costs that might occur if someone does contest the validity of your will. An attorney can help you better understand what other situations might warrant both a living trust and a will.
Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers
Backed by more than 40 years of experience, Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC can skillfully assist you in developing an estate plan that suits your family's needs. Dedicated to ensuring your wishes are carried out, even after your death, our DuPage County estate planning lawyers can examine your situation, explain your options, and execute whatever strategy appeals to you. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule your personalized consultation today.