I get calls every day from clients who want to plan for the future when they are either not around or for the possibility that they will be unable to make important life decisions for themselves anymore. Usually, folks want me to draft a will and a power of attorney for healthcare decisions. When I hear that, I tell them I am happy they are thinking about the future and how to prepare and protect against the unknown. I tell them a good will and power of attorney for healthcare are great places to start. Then I tell them they should consider creating a revocable trust.
What exactly is a revocable trust? That’s usually the next question. Or, sometimes I hear that trusts are too complicated. But I’m here to tell you, just like I tell those that call me asking to draft a will, that trusts aren’t at all complicated and they are far superior to wills for several reasons.
The first significant reason to establish a trust instead of a will is because trusts avoid probate. That means if something were to happen to you, your loved ones could immediately begin implementing the plan that you created. With a will, you have to go to probate. That means you have to go to court. As you are doubtless aware, court costs money. Moreover, if you go to probate, you have to notify a litany of potentially interested parties. Those people might contest your will. You also have to wait a long time to make sure there are no objections before your executor can begin doing what you want done with your assets. You also have to get approval from a judge, which is never guaranteed. Even if you have the best, most well-drafted will possible, all of these things could still mess up or greatly slow down your objectives.
Having a trust avoids all of that. With a trust, if anything should ever happen to you — whether you pass away or whether you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions — your trustee, someone you pick ahead of time, can legally step into your shoes and perform actions as if they were you. And those actions that are performed are all decided by you, in advance. If you want your home to be sold immediately so your loved ones have the funds they need to take care of themselves, a trustee can do that without having to go to court or notify anyone. If you need someone who will look after your best interests following a major accident or medical emergency, a trustee can be that person. And, unlike a will, it’s private. A will is a public document — with a trust, only those who need to know will know.
With any good estate plan, you should have certainty, clarity and the peace of mind to know that your wishes will be fulfilled. Only a trust truly provides that. Please don’t put off a good estate plan any longer. Call us for more information. I’ll be happy to talk to you.