There are several reasons that Living Trusts, for the most part, are better than Wills for most people. Here are just a few:
- Privacy – Wills and the probate process are public record. That means anyone off the street can march down to the courthouse and see what someone’s will says. That is the reason we all have heard about celebrities who have a huge will contest that is spread all over the media, because they had a will that had to go through probate when they died. You don’t hear about celebrities who died with all of their assets in a trust. Why? Because trusts are not public record. No one finds out what is in there unless you tell them.
- Efficiency – Trusts are simply more efficient than wills. A properly drafted trust will take effect the day you pass away. There are no delays in gaining access to funds, to brokerage accounts, to business assets, etc. With a will, the personal representative ( formerly called the executor or executrix) has to wait until the probate court issued a document giving them permission to access those items, which can take months.
- Less Expensive – You may be surprised at this item. Most people think that trusts are only for the wealthy, and are extremely expensive. Not true! A well written trust can be much less expensive in the long run than a will. A will might cost you less up front, but when it goes through probate, possibly with court hearings, having to hire a guardian for any minors, etc., a standard will can be much more expensive than a trust. Trusts will cost more up front, but when you pass away, there are practically no expenses at all! It simply automatically kicks in, with no attorney involvement required typically.
- Flexibility – Wills are required to have certain language by law. Trusts can have nearly anything incorporated into them, as long as it is legal.