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How to Choose Between a Will and Living Trust

2.01.21 Posted By Alison Anders Uncategorized

With COVID-19 numbers on the rise in Arizona, I have seen a dramatic increase in clients seeking information about wills, living trusts and other estate planning techniques. Amidst all the recent uncertainty, our family lawyers in Chandler understand that it is more important than ever to make sure your assets are protected for your children or other beneficiaries. The most common question I get from clients is – Do I need a living trust, or is a will sufficient?

Even if your financial situation is relatively simple, a living trust is the best way to avoid probate. Probate can be an expensive, time-consuming, and stressful process for your beneficiaries. If you only have a will, your estate will likely still need to be probated. A trust, on the other hand, can be settled without court involvement if properly established. There are many other benefits to having a living trust, rather than simply a will:

  • Beneficiaries: If you have minor children or beneficiaries with special needs, a trust allows greater flexibility in deciding how your assets are distributed. With only a will, the court is required to distribute your assets as soon as a child turns 18. With a trust, you can decide when and how your beneficiaries receive their share.

  • Asset Locations: If you own property in multiple states, especially real property, a living trust is usually the better option. If you only have a will, your beneficiaries may need to open multiple probates in other states to distribute your assets.

  • Disability: Both trusts and wills deal with death, but only a trust deals with disability. With people living much longer these days, disability is a much greater concern. Trusts can be very good at dealing with temporary or permanent disability situations.

  • Cost: A trust may be more expensive upfront than a will, but probating a will, and the time and stress that go along with the probate process, may more than offset the additional cost. Every situation is different, and you should speak with an attorney to determine the best plan for your family. Many estate planning attorneys offer free or low-cost consultations. At our firm, we have also overhauled our intake process to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.