Wills vs. Trusts — The Basics
Serving Individuals, Families and Farmers throughout Northwest, Southwest and South Central Kansas
Living Trusts give the most flexibility in planning and we almost always recommend them to our clients. Below is an explanation of the basic differences between a will and a living trust.
- Allows you to avoid the expense and delay of probate proceedings (in most states), which can take up to a year or more to complete and eat up 5% of the value of your estate.
- May eliminate the need to probate property if you own property in another state.
- Allows immediate transfer of management of your property if you become incapacitated either physically or mentally—no need to go to the court to appoint a guardian or conservator.
- Protects your privacy—remains confidential and does not become a matter of public record.
- Enables you to name someone you trust to manage trust property for young beneficiaries.
- Enables spouses to more easily use both spouses’ estate tax exemption.
- Requires quite a bit of initial paperwork and can be relatively expensive to set up.
- Requires you to transfer ownership of all the property you wish to place in the trust. This may include revising title documents.
- Property owned in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, may adversely affect the use of both spouses’ estate tax exemption.
- Often simpler and less expensive than setting up a living trust.
- No need to transfer any property to create a will or make it valid.
- Requires probate to implement your will, which can be both costly and slow.
- Becomes a matter of public record through probate.
- Actual distribution of your property is usually controlled by the probate lawyers, working with the executor of your will. This can be both expensive and unpleasant.
- Does not provide for transfer or management of your assets or property if you should become physically or mentally incapacitated.