If you are ready to consider how you want to distribute your estate after your death, you may be thinking of the simplest plan, which is writing a will. A will seems straightforward and flexible. You name your heirs and what they will inherit, and you name an executor to handle your estate.
As long as you follow Massachusetts law and have the appropriate signatures from witnesses, your will is likely to hold up through the probate process. However, there are some drawbacks to using a will as the only element of your estate plan, especially for those you leave behind. Because of this, many investigate the benefits of a revocable trust.
What's the difference?
Choosing the easiest and cheapest way to manage your estate is not always best for your family. If you have a very simple estate, a will may be sufficient, but your estate may have factors that make a trust an important part of your plan. The main difference between a will and a trust is that the trust essentially becomes the owner of your assets. With a trust in your estate plan, you will have the following benefits and more:
- Your heirs can benefit from their inheritance quicker because, unlike a will, the assets funded to your trust do not pass through probate, a process which can take months or years.
- A trust is a private transaction, so it is not a matter of public record, which means you and your heirs can maintain your privacy about what is in your estate.
- While your will takes effect only after you pass away, you can create your trust with instructions for in case you become mentally incapacitated, such as having your successor trustee step in a manage your affairs.
If you establish a revocable trust, you still have control over the assets and can remove them from the trust at any time. Additionally, you should not altogether discard the idea of having a will to work in conjunction with your trust. A will can deal with any assets you may not fund to your trust, whether intentionally or inadvertently. Your will can also name someone as guardian of your children if they are still minors.
To learn how you can make the most of your estate plan, you would be wise to reach out to a skilled attorney who can help you decide what tools are most appropriate for your circumstances.