Wills & Trusts

If you’re reading this and you’re age 18 or older, you need a will. Your will is not going to include the same instructions and provisions when you’re 18 as when you’re 28, 48, or 68, but you need a will just the same. “Will-based” planning means that you have a will, but no trust. In the alternative, “trust-based” planning means that you have a revocable living trust – and a will.

Brittany Littleton and her team will ensure your will accomplishes these 3 purposes:

  1. To distribute any assets in your individual name or made payable to your estate.
  2. To appoint a personal representative.
  3. To appoint guardians for minor children.

Here’s what happens if you don’t have a will:

  1. State law decides who will inherit your assets – and it may not be who you would like.
  2. The court will decide who handles wrapping up your estate – and it may not be who you would like.
  3. The court will decide who raises your minor children – and it may not be who you would like.

Is a Will Enough?

Many trust provisions can be included in a will, but that’s not a good idea. Why? Because a will dictates that your personal and financial business will be made public, probate is guaranteed, and will administration tends to be much more expensive than trust administration.

But, even if you have a trust, you still need a will to do those things we mentioned above:

  1. To distribute any assets in your individual name or made payable to your estate – to your trust.
  2. To appoint an executor (or “personal representative” in some places) – this is the same person you name as your successor trustee.
  3. To appoint guardians for minor children.

If you’re young, unmarried, and don’t have children or significant assets, your will can be simple and is likely enough. Once someone is dependent upon you or you have significant assets, consider a living trust. You may not need a trust, but contact Littleton Legal PLLC to talk about your options so you can make a good decision.

A revocable living trust is a commonly used estate planning vehicle and many of the plans we design are centered around this particular trust. We love their flexibility, convenience, and protection.

Though a financial investment is necessary, the benefits of trust planning outweighs the costs for most of our clients. For example, a trust provides organization as well as disability, death, tax, charitable, and asset protection planning. We can also add protections such as remarriage protection and bloodline protection to protect against assets being lost during remarriage of your spouse.

Best of all, when you set up a trust and fund your assets into it, you maintain full control. You can take your assets in and out of the trust as you like, purchase additional assets, sell assets, change the terms of the trust, and dissolve the trust altogether. You don’t even need to file a separate tax return and you just use your own social security number – no Employer Identification Number (EIN) is needed.

While we value the asset protection a trust affords if carefully crafted, our clients also appreciate the privacy and probate avoidance benefits. You may not realize this, but when you die without a trust, your will, if you have one, and all of your assets, debts, beneficiaries, beneficiary contact information are filed at the courthouse. This means anyone who is curious enough can go online or to the courthouse and see who you owed, how much you had, and who got what.

Our clients also like avoiding probate because it tends to take a long time to settle, costs money, and delays their loved ones’ ability to move on and get back to life after a tragic experience. All these benefits can be had during your lifetime as well. If you are incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs for a period of time, your trust avoids living probate (aka “guardianship” or “conservatorship”) as well.

Contact Littleton Legal PLLC today to schedule a no-obligation consultation regarding the best estate plan for you and your family.