After considering Do I Need a Will?
The probate process can be avoided while still maintaining a very high degree of certainty that your estate will be handled by the persons who choose, the way you want it handled, by using a living Trust. Unlike a Will, where the job is done when the Will is signed, a client (and/or the attorney) needs to follow up the signing of a living Trust by transferring assets to the Trust. Thus, a living Trust is more complex, more expensive and more work than a simple Will to set up.
A living Trust is more complex, more expensive, and more time-consuming to set up, but it eliminates all of the cost and delay of probate on the back end and makes the handling of the estate much more streamlined, simple and less costly after you are gone. The additional cost and the additional work involved at the front end pays dividends in less work, less cost and less delay at the back end.
Whether to do the cheapest estate planning or to do a Will or to do a living Trust as the primary vehicle of your estate planning is not a right or wrong or one size fits all answer. Each person needs to weigh the benefits against the costs, and weigh the burdens against the limitations, and make an individualized decision.
If the cheapest “estate planning” is employed, and something goes wrong, your ends will not be achieved, and the complications created by the unforeseen circumstances that “go wrong” may be time-consuming, costly and difficult to resolve. There is very little or no cost upfront, but there is higher risk, including the risk of costly resolution of issues that arise on the back end.
A Will involves more cost than the alternative on the front end and more cost on the back end (probate), but will ensure a high likelihood that your desired ends will be attained. A living Trust involves even more cost on the front end and more work on your part, but it provides an even greater likelihood of achieving your ends on the back end with the added advantage of significantly reducing the cost and time required for administration as well.
The key is in understanding the cost-benefit analysis so that an informed decision can be made. More comprehensive estate planning, which typically means a living Trust, involves more cost to set up. More cost and more complexity also means more control and, therefore, more benefits. While a living Trust costs more on the front end, it saves cost and time on the back end.
In practice, the options are not mutually exclusive. We make use of each of the options often in the same estate plan, in combination with each other, to reach the desired ends. The best estate planning often makes use of a combination of all three options. Your decision on what estate planning tools to use should be made with some comparison and understanding of those various options. Any experienced and reputable estate planning attorney can fill in the blanks in your understanding of those various options and guide you in using those tools to match your preferences and your circumstances.
- Kevin G. Drendel
- Drendel & Jansons Law Group
- 111 Flinn Street
- Batavia, IL 60510
- (630) 406-5440
- (630) 406-6179 fax