Do I Need a Will or a Trust: What You Should Know

How to Decide Which Type of Estate Plan is Best for You

An estate plan consists of many different types of documents, each with its own purpose. Which documents are included in your plan will depend on your unique situation. Engaging with a professional estate planning attorney on whether or not you need a will or a trust will save you worry and money in the long run.

Concerned about planning for your future? Contact us today to learn more about setting up a will or trust.

What You’ll Learn From This Video

  • When a trust is warranted instead of a will

  • What is included in a will VS a trust

  • Why you should ask a professional for assistance


Margaret Barrett: Do I need a will or a trust? Great question. If you need an estate plan, one of your first decisions will be whether you want a will-based plan or a trust-based plan. Let’s get started with a basic review of a will versus trust. First, wills are quick and straightforward, especially if you can avoid probate, and that depends on your particular situation. Second, wills cost less up front when they are drafted. Third, wills work well if you don’t have a need for control or protection, for example, if all of your beneficiaries are mature and they handle money well and they’re healthy. Fourth, wills are ideal if you have just one property and just one beneficiary. Because then you’re in a pretty good situation to transfer the property using a transfer-on-death deed and still probably avoid probate. Fifth, with a will plan, we will also include a power of attorney, a healthcare directive, and a digital asset authorization so that your wishes are fulfilled by the people you want if you lose capacity. Next, let’s review the basics of revocable or living trusts, which are the same thing. Trusts are best if you have multiple properties, especially if they’re in separate states, and if you have multiple beneficiaries. That’s because your trustee can easily sell property without having to go to court after you’re gone. Trusts protect your assets if a beneficiary predeceases you. For example, if an adult child predeceases you, you can make sure the money goes into trust for your grandchildren instead of going perhaps to their spouse or someone else. Trusts are more expensive upfront because they are more involved. However, they have a much higher likelihood of avoiding probate later. So it’s a pay more now, pay less later proposition. Trusts are more powerful and more flexible if you lose capacity. They are more widely accepted than powers of attorney are, and you can include sophisticated strategies to protect your assets in case you need long-term care. They are also very beneficial for blended families and remarriage. This was a quick overview of wills versus trusts, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it brought up more questions for you. We are happy to help you think through the pros and cons of a will or a trust for you. Our goal is to educate and empower you to make the best decision for you. If you are ready to get started, give us a call today.

Author Bio

Margaret Barrett is the Founder and Owner of Safe Harbor Estate Law, a Saint Paul, MN, estate planning law firm she founded in 2013. With almost 15 years of combined experience in litigation and Minnesota estate law, she is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of estate law matters. Her practice areas include estate planning, asset protection, elder law, and more.

Margaret received her Juris Doctor from the William Mitchell College of Law and is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association and the Ramsey County Bar Association.

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