Why Use a Trust Instead of a Will?

Trusts are often used in estate planning as they provide a more efficient and cost-effective way to transfer assets to heirs than wills. A living revocable trust does not require court approval and keeps everything private, allowing the successor trustee to take over management immediately after the grantor's death. The main purpose of wills and trusts is to name the beneficiaries of one's property. In a will, you simply describe the property and list who should receive it.

When using a trust, you must also transfer ownership to the trust. This eliminates the need for probate, which is the process by which a court transfers ownership of assets to those named in the will. Probate can be costly and time-consuming, so avoiding it is beneficial. A trust offers several advantages over a will.

First, it allows heirs to avoid probate, while wills are necessary for succession. Additionally, trusts provide more control over the distribution of assets than wills do. Furthermore, trusts keep the distribution of assets private, while wills and probate are public records. Anyone who is single and has assets titled in their exclusive name should consider a revocable living trust for these reasons.

Unfortunately, trusts are often seen as a tool only for the wealthy, which is one of many misconceptions about trusts that can make this planning strategy underutilized by everyday people. Keep in mind that after creating a trust, you must also finance it by transferring assets to it, making the trust the owner. Most revocable living trusts include what is called a dumping will, which is a type of will designed to work in conjunction with your trust. Items listed in trusts will be distributed upon death; dispersing everything in 4 ways and dissolving irrevocable trusts.

There are several types of irrevocable trusts that are used to avoid the impact of estate tax, such as a grantor-retained annuity trust or GRAT; limited-access trust for spouses or SLAT; or qualified personal residence trust or QPRT. The grantor may select a successor trustee to administer the trust if the grantor is unable to do so or dies. This means that a trust can provide protection and direct your assets if you become mentally incapacitated, something that a will cannot do. The main feature of a living trust is that it appoints a trustee to manage and distribute the trust property after your death, and this replaces the executor who works with the probate court. With revocable living trusts, the grantor is still considered the owner of the trust assets, even though a separate entity is formed because the trust can be modified at any time.

A trust can make provisions for things like what you want to happen if you become mentally or physically unable to make your own decisions.

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