Why Does a Living Trust Cost More than a Will? An Atlanta Wills & Trusts Lawyer Has the Answer.

Why Does a Living Trust Cost More than a Will? An Atlanta Wills & Trusts Lawyer Has the Answer.

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It will probably cost more initially to set up a well-drafted living trust than to have a will prepared  by an Atlanta wills and trusts lawyer. A true cost comparison should include not only the expense to establish the will or trust, but also what it will cost should you become incapacitated and after you die.

The Key Takeaways:

  • A living trust document has more provisions than a will because it deals with issues while you are living and after you die, while a will only deals with issues that occur after your death.

  • A properly prepared and funded living trust will avoid court proceedings at incapacity and death. A will provides no such protection and can, in fact, ensure court intervention at both events, which can be very costly (in time, privacy and dollars) to your family.

Instructions at Death and Incapacity

Both a will and a living trust contain instructions for distributing your assets after you die. But a living trust also contains your instructions for managing your assets and your care should you become incapacitated.

A Living Trust Avoids the Costs of Court Interference at Incapacity and Death

A properly prepared and funded living trust (one that holds all of your assets) will avoid the need for a court guardianship and/or conservatorship if you become incapacitated. The person(s) you select will be able to manage your care and your assets privately, with no court interference.

A will can only go into effect at your death, so it can provide no instructions regarding incapacity. In that case, your family would almost certainly have to ask the court to establish a guardianship and/or conservatorship for your care and your assets—a process that is public, time consuming, expensive and difficult to end.

What You Need to Know.  The same living trust document that can keep you out of a court guardianship at incapacity can also keep your family out of probate court when you die. But a will must go through probate. Depending on where you live, this can be costly and time consuming.

Costs to Transfer Assets…Pay Now or Later

There may be some minor costs to transfer assets into your living trust when you set it up, and then from your trust to your beneficiaries after you die. But these will be minimal if you and your successor trustee do much of the work yourselves. With a will, the probate court (with its costs and attorney fees) is the only way to transfer your assets to your heirs after you die. So you can pay now to set up your trust and transfer titles, or you can pay the courts and attorneys to do this for you after you die.

Actions to Consider

  • Find out what probate costs are where you live. If your state has a fee schedule based on the value of probate assets, this will be fairly easy. If it has “reasonable” fees, ask an attorney to estimate what these fees would be if you die tomorrow and, if you are married, if your spouse dies the next day.
  • Similarly, ask your Atlanta living trust attorney to estimate what the costs would be if you become incapacitated tomorrow and, if you are married, if your spouse becomes incapacitated the next day. (Practically speaking, this will be impossible to estimate because no one will be able to predict how long the incapacity will last or what complications might arise. The mere uncertainty of these costs should give you pause—and propel you to plan for incapacity.)
  • Add these estimates to the cost of having a will prepared—and compare that to the cost of a living trust. When you make a true comparison, you may conclude that having a living trust actually costs less than a will.

If you’d like to find out whether a will or living trust is the best vehicle for your Atlanta Georgia estate plan, call us at 770.425.6060 and schedule a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session with us.

Atlanta Wills and Trusts Lawyer Offers Ways to Approach “Tough Conversations” With Mom or Dad

Atlanta Wills and Trusts Lawyer Offers Ways to Approach “Tough Conversations” With Mom or Dad

estate plans for aging parentsWhen meeting with a wills and trusts lawyer in Atlanta for the first time, many adult children realize that they have no idea where their parents stand in terms of having the right plans in place to protect their assets and wishes if something happens to them.

Do their parents have a will or trust and, if so, where are these and other important documents located? Should assisted living or nursing home care become necessary, what plans are in place to cover the costs? Will mom or dad even have enough money after these costs to carry them through retirement?

These are some very important questions that need to be asked, and an experienced Atlanta GA wills and trusts lawyer can steer you in the right direction. That being said, no matter how good your relationship is with mom or dad, the subject can be a difficult one to approach.

Perhaps the best place to start is timing. Holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are known to be stressful times, so you might want to avoid these occasions. Current events often present the perfect opening, as there is always some Hollywood legend or financial mogul who dies leaving a fortune for the heirs to squabble over.

Or, the personal experience of a friend or relative can be worked into a dialogue. “So-and-So’s mother was admitted to the hospital recently and no one knew where to find her important papers.” For the adult child who is doing estate planning of their own, it would only be natural to want to discuss their parents’ plans with them during this time.

For some families, several conversations over a longer period of time might be a better approach. No one wants to feel like they are being told what to do, and money matters are often emotionally charged conversations to begin with.

Remember, advance preparations are in the best interests of the parents, so that their wishes can be carried out upon death.  Be sure to communicate this from the start to avoid your parents shutting down or getting defensive about the questions you are asking.

Finally, don’t forget to include the topic of long-term care in your conversations with mom or dad.   While no one likes to think about the possibility of becoming disabled or incapacitated by something like a stroke or Alzheimer’s disease, it does happen and it’s something that must be planned well in advance for.  If you start early enough, an Atlanta wills and trust lawyer can help you put the right plans in place to ensure mom or dad’s wishes during incapacity are honored and that they won’t be forced to sell or give away all of their assets in order to qualify for state or federal assistance.

Are you now ready to help your parents put a rock-solid plan in place that ensures their end-of-life wishes are honored to the fullest?  Then be sure to call our Atlanta wills and trusts lawyers for assistance.  With the mention of this article (“TOUGH CONVERSATIONS”), you may qualify for a Georgia Family Legacy Planning Session ($750 value), at no-charge.  Simply call 770-425-6060 to find out more.