Special Feature – Estate Planning

In Estate Planning, September 2014, Steward Articles by Adam Cufr

“Should I Do a Will or a Living Trust?”

A lot of people ask me: “Which is better, a Will or a Living Trust?”

The answer is my favorite “lawyer answer”: “it depends.”

To illustrate, let me ask a different question. Which is better, a refrigerator or a gun safe? Of course, the answer to that question is “it depends” on what you need to do. If your goal is to keep your milk cold, then the refrigerator would be the best bet, and a gun safe would be a disaster. If you’re looking to secure your firearms and keep them safe, then I wouldn’t suggest putting them in the refrigerator.

The answer to the question of which is better, a Will or a Trust, depends on what you want to accomplish with your estate planning. While they are both similar estate planning tools (they are both used to direct who will be in charge of an estate and who is to receive the property after the owner dies), they are very different as well, and they will help you achieve very different goals.

You should consider a Will if your planning goals include the following:

  • You want to create a “simple plan” and want to minimize the initial cost of the planning (a Will costs less than a Trust).
  • You want your estate to go through Probate (some people feel that their estate/beneficiaries will need the structure and oversight of the Probate process).

You should consider a Trust if you want the following with your estate planning:

  • You want a “simple plan” and want to minimize the overall cost of your planning.
  • You want your estate to avoid Probate.
  • You want to build in protections for your loved ones (for example, younger and financially inexperienced children or grandchildren, or beneficiaries with special needs, creditor problems, addictions, marital issues, or spending problems).

Just like the refrigerator and the gun safe, a Will is not the right planning tool for every person, and neither is a Trust. You need to look and see what your planning goals are to determine which is right for you. In our office, we offer a no cost initial consultation to help you understand which planning tools will best suit your needs. Just call our office at 419-872-7670 and we can get an appointment scheduled for you with one of our attorneys to start looking at your planning goals and needs.

If you are a teacher (or work in a school), you can take advantage of our back-to-school special that is continuing through the end of September. This special gives you 15% off any of our estate planning fees, but the discount ends at the end of September, so we encourage you to call right away and get your appointment scheduled before then.

Special guest author Richard Chamberlain is the principal and founding attorney of Chamberlain Law Group, Ltd. (and our next door neighbor). His law firm focuses on estate planning and administration. You can reach him at 419-872-7670 or learn more at www.chamberlain-law.net.