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 Estates Lawyer Explains The Importance of Creating a Will Now

Atlanta Estates Lawyer Explains The Importance of Creating a Will Now

wills and trusts lawyer in AtlantaAs a wills and trusts lawyer in Atlanta, it’s easy to see why so many people put off writing their will. After all, no one really wants to think about their own death, let alone prepare for it. In reality, though, preparing by creating a will is exactly what we should all be doing. There are plenty of reasons to consider, and any reputable wills and trusts lawyer will be able to go through the list with you to ensure that you are protecting your assets and the people you love.

Despite not wanting to think about death, the reality of it is inevitable. If you have not prepared by writing a will, then you are risking both your own wishes and the outcome for those you love. This may be especially important for parents.

If you haven’t put together your will, then your children’s future can be in serious jeopardy. For example, you may assume that your property would simply pass on to your kids, but the courts may have other ideas. Additionally, other family members (such as a new spouse) may step in and take things that you intended for your children.

The most extreme example, however, likely comes along with guardianship. In order to ensure that your children are raised in the fashion you deem appropriate, you need to specify their guardians. This is done through the will, and the best way to make sure your wishes are known is to work with a wills and trusts lawyer now, before the issue is completely out of your hands.

Some Atlanta residents feel that they don’t need a will simply because they are married. They assume that if they were to die, their assets, property, children, etc. would automatically pass to the spouse. In some rare cases, this may not be true, as others may have a legitimate claim to an inheritance when a will hasn’t been written. It is heartbreaking to know that your spouse may not be the beneficiary of those things you most want him or her to have.

Of course, there’s also the possibility of both spouses being killed at one time. In situations like that, there is no surviving spouse to speak up for the children or to have a say in the distribution of assets. Again, the courts will have a much bigger say in the outcome of your estate than you would probably like.

Creating a will doesn’t have to be an overly-complicated activity, although it makes sense to consult with a good wills and trusts lawyer to ensure you are covering the basics and fulfilling any legal requirements applicable to Atlanta residents. While it’s certainly not ideal to spend time imagining what would happen to your family and assets after your death, doing so now can make an incredible difference later.