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 Trusts Lawyer Reveals the Privacy Advantages of a Living Trust

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I find as an Atlanta GA trusts and estate planning lawyer that many people don’t realize the privacy issues that will face their family should they die without a living trust. That’s simply because upon your death, everything you are leaving behind to your loved ones automatically becomes a matter of public record—even if you have a will or other estate planning documents in place!

While this may feel like a huge violation from a privacy perspective, it also presents a safety issue to those inheriting your estate.  There are a lot of unscrupulous people who prey on widows and other beneficiaries and try to separate them from their inheritance.

So why does the County make this information available to the public?

The lack of privacy is understandable if you know the true purpose of probate.  One of the primary purposes of probate is to make sure the creditors of the deceased person have an easy way to collect any debts they are owed from their estate. For that reason alone, the probate process must be open and public.

This information is also made public so the creditors of your beneficiaries have notice that they are inheriting an estate. Under this scenario, the creditors could bring an immediate claim against your beneficiary, which may ultimately result in your beneficiary never receiving the inheritance you wanted to leave them.

However, to be clear, I am in no way advocating that debts go unpaid.  In fact, you should instruct your executor to pay your debts.  But, wouldn’t you rather direct how this process goes rather than leaving it to the courts?

One way to do that while simultaneously stopping the violation of privacy and loss of control of your estate is to create a living trust.

Unlike a will, a living trust is a private document that will not become a matter of public record because it does not have to be filed with the probate court.  Therefore, you can name beneficiaries and provide gifts while still attaining privacy since only the trustees and those involved in trust administration will know the contents of a living trust.  This means that no creditor of yours or your beneficiaries, no disgruntled relative, no scam artist, and no nosey neighbor will ever know the details of your financial history.

Remember, there are people out there who make a living preying on young or vulnerable people that have just inherited something from an estate. They troll these public records daily looking for victims of their next heist or scam.  Fortunately, with a bit of planning, you can protect your family from such privacy violations that accompany the probate process.  I recommend talking to your Atlanta or Marietta  trusts lawyer about living trusts and how they can help your family if something unexpectedly happens to you.

Fortunately, we’ve made that process easier than ever by making 5 free Georgia Family Treasures Planning Sessions available this month to readers of our blog.  Simply call 770-425-6060 and mention this article to reserve your spot.  Your family will thank you for it.

 

 

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