Will vs. Trust
A revocable living trust can be a valuable estate planning tool. For property owned by the trust, or for which the trust is named as beneficiary, it avoids the necessity of formal estate/probate proceedings. Trust administration can be quicker and less expensive than probate proceedings. This is especially helpful if the estate is complex or if there is property in more than one state, such as a vacation home. Also, a living trust is not a public record, and provides your beneficiaries with a level of privacy in this process.
With a living trust, you would normally name yourself as trustee during your lifetime, and retain the authority to manage property in the trust. You would name a successor trustee (your spouse, an adult child or a trusted friend) to handle the administration and distribution of assets upon your death. Your successor trustee would be able to administer the assets of the trust as you direct in the trust agreement, without obtaining Court authorization.
Even if you have a living trust, you should still have a Last Will and Testament. A “pour over” Will ensures that any asset that is subject to probate/estate administration will be added ("poured over") to your trust at the time of your death. Assets that are not jointly owned, that are not titled in the trust, or that do not have a beneficiary, will be distributed to your trust pursuant to your “pour over” Will.
The cost to update your Estate Plan, including setting up a trust, varies depending on your needs. A typical Estate Plan ranges from $750-$1500, but can be more if you have a complicated estate, or if you need assistance with updating account titles or beneficiary provisions. Our office charges for the
time that we spend in providing you with legal services. In order to keep the cost of these services more affordable, we can provide instructions for you to handle updates to the account ownership and beneficiary provisions. We will be happy to discuss this with you further at our initial conference.