Hi, my name is attorney Robert Vaksman with Vaksman Khalfin PC. Today I’m here to talk to you about a will versus a living trust.
What’s really interesting is all of the false information that you’ll find on TV, in newspapers on the internet about a will versus a living trust, it’s a really common question we get. In particular, a lot of the things you’ll read or see is that a will is sufficient for most folks. In our experience, that is simply not true. To understand why that’s not true, let’s discuss a little bit about a will versus a living trust and what the differences are.
The way I like to start explaining a will versus a trust is to simply say that a will is a set of instructions for a probate court judge. Now, you may not know what probate court is, we’ll need to explain that a little bit. Essentially, probate court is the court-mandated process for when a person passes away without a trust and when they own assets. If you own assets and you pass away, and mind you those assets could be a very small amount. Nonetheless, when you own something and you need to pass it on to your heirs, the court needs to get involved, that does not have to happen if you have a living trust.
Additionally, probate is required if you have minor kids and a probate court judge has to sign off on who would get custody of those kids. There are situations where a will is required such as if you have minor kids. Having said that, you can make the process much easier on yourself if you have a living trust and a will becomes a secondary document. Again, getting back to the initial definition is that, remember a will is a set of instructions for a probate court judge, In those instructions, you might specify who gets to take your house and who gets to take your cash or other assets. You can be specific about it. You can provide the assets in terms of percentages.
However, you want to do it you can do it but the point is is that if you have a will you are guaranteed, or rather your heirs are guaranteed to go to probate court. This is different if you have a living trust. Let’s go over those differences, a living trust specifically will bypass probate, not only will it bypass probate but it’s a private document. Remember, a will because it’s a set of instructions for a probate court judge, gets lodged with a probate court and any court proceedings are public and so your will becomes a public document. For most folks, that’s something that they don’t want to do.
A living trust allows a administration to occur very quickly, efficiently, at a lower cost and privately. With probate court, back to that nasty topic, probate court because it’s court, is necessarily long, costly and sometimes you don’t know what results you’re going to end up with. Back to a living trust, you can administer your assets or rather your heirs when it’s time to administer your assets, can do so very quickly, a lot quicker than if they had to go through probate court without any publicity, without it being public and at a much lower rate.
It’s really important to understand a living trust versus a will and the misinformation that’s out there, because in all honesty whether you have $50,000 or $50 million, in our experience we regardless refer folks to the living trust document to serve as the main part of their estate plan. Because even if you don’t have that many assets today, who’s to say that you won’t necessarily have that many assets a year from now or five years from now? That would be our recommendation, even if you don’t own too many assets, go ahead and prepare a living trust estate plan.
Honestly, in our firm all estate plans are the same price regardless of whether they’re will-based or trust-based. You might find the same to be true in other firms because they still take just as much time to put together. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call to discuss a living trust versus a will, and we would be happy to answer them for you. Thanks for listening. Come back and check us out for more videos.