Several Benefits Of Choosing A Revocable Trust Over A Standard Will

Law Articles

Also known as living wills, revocable trusts differ from traditional wills in several significant ways, but the major advantage they have for most people is that they bypass probate courts and instead transfer money and assets to beneficiaries immediately. This is helpful to heirs in a variety of ways, including:

  • Probate is expensive, and the costs usually are taken out of the estate, leaving far less money for heirs.
  • Probate ties up property and assets for at least several months and often for longer than a year. This can cause some beneficiaries to experience financial distress.

Besides the distinct disadvantages of going through probate court, there are other benefits to opting for a revocable trust over a standard will. Following are four of them.

Your Property Will Be Protected if You Are Incapacitated

Thanks to advances in health care, people are now living longer than at any other time in history. While this is certainly good news for everyone, it also means that there may be greater chances of becoming incapacitated during the course of the average lifetime. An estate plan that clearly addresses the possibility of this occurring by appointing someone to manage your money will protect your assets if you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. This can be a trusted attorney, a son or daughter, or any relative or friend you believe will act in your best interests in the event that you aren't able to.

Your Living Trust Will Not Be Likely to Be Contested

Traditional wills are frequently contested in court by those who feel as if they are not receiving their fair share or believe that the deceased was under undue influence when the will was signed. Those who contest sometimes do so out of greed or animosity toward beneficiaries, and a revocable living trust will make this very difficult for them because contesting a revocable living trust involves successfully crossing several major hurdles. Contestants must prove that the grantor not only signed under undue influence or was incompetent at the time of signing, but it's also necessary to prove that the person was incompetent or unduly influenced when each individual distribution decision was made and when each specific property was transferred to the trust. Contesting a revocable trust is also a process that is played out in the civil courts rather than in probate court, resulting in significant filing fees and attorney charges.

Your Final Wishes Will Be Private

Probate is a public process because it goes through a county court. The results of probate are a matter of public record and are often printed in local newspapers, and in cases where they are not, anyone who wants to can view the estate file and read the details of the will. With a revocable trust, the financial details of your estate are safe from those such as:

  • Nosy neighbors and acquaintances.
  • Disgruntled relatives who aren't happy with their allotment from your estate.
  • Unscrupulous salespeople who routinely search the contents of wills looking for heirs who have inherited significant amounts of money or property.

 Worse yet, many probate courts are beginning to post wills on the Internet, making the information readily available to virtually anyone who knows where to look.

A Revocable Trust is All-Inclusive

If you own property in another state, that property will have to pass through the probate courts in the county in which it's located. A revocable trust created by an estate planning specialist will allow you to include all of your property and assets. This has become increasingly important in recent years as more and more people are purchasing retirement homes and investment properties in other states.


25 March 2015

Dealing with Estate Planning When You're Single

Too many single people assume they don't need to plan their estate. My brother fell into this category, and his unexpected passing left our entire family struggling to deal with his home, belongings, and financial accounts. It took nearly three years for the courts to set up a deal because he left no paperwork detailing how he wanted his estate divided. The situation immediately convinced me to work on my own estate, even though I'm still in my early 30's and don't have children or a spouse to worry about. Since it's a little harder to pick beneficiaries and estate managers when you're single, I collected the resources I used for making my own decisions and decided to publish them here on my blog. Use these resources before talking to an estate planning attorney so you're prepared for making hard decisions.