Which One is Better - a Will or a Trust?
Comparing a will and a trust is a bit like comparing an apple and an orange; it is often a matter of preference and in the end, they are both a piece of fruit. A will and a trust are both estate planning tools, but they each have their own unique flavor and appearance.
A will is less complex and expensive to create but leaves more work and expense for later. A will is an estate planning tool where you leave instructions for who gets what and who is in charge of making sure they get it. Executing a will is a great step to ensuring that your wishes are carried out. One of the best features of a will is that it is relatively simple and executing your will can be achieved quickly. Once a will has been properly executed and your beneficiary designations have been checked to correspond with the will, you are done. Thinking about what happens when we die can be a challenging exercise and for this reason alone some individuals prefer the ease of executing a will and moving on.
However, one of the most popular reasons people decide against a will is probate. Once you die your will usually must be probated. To learn more about probate and when it is needed check out our blog post. In Texas, probate is a relatively quick and relatively inexpensive process. Probate can still take many months and a few thousand dollars. While a will may be less expensive on the front end many families discover that a trust is ultimately less expensive when the cost of probate is factored in.
A trust is more complex and expensive to create but leaves less work and expense for later. A trust is an estate planning tool where you leave instructions for who gets what, when and how they get it, and who is in charge of making sure they get it. A trust allows you much greater control over the when and how of who is getting your stuff. Your trust is your own rule book, and you can create any limitations or conditions you desire. For that reason alone, many individuals select a trust over a will. Additionally, a trust allows for greater planning for disability.
A trust does not have to be probated, if funded properly. Not only does this avoid the expense and time of probate, but it also avoids the hassle of probate for your beneficiaries and ensures privacy for your estate. However, if a trust is not properly funded, meaning your stuff is not in the trust, the administration process can be just as complex or even more complex than a will. If you are interested in creating a trust you must also be willing to do the work to fund it properly. Of course, your attorney and/or financial advisor can help guide you through this process.
At the end of the day, a will and a trust will often get you to the same place; it is merely a matter of preference. If you have the time and funds to devote to a trust now, they can be wonderful tools but a will can also help protect your family when you die.