Trusts and wills are both very popular and effective estate planning tools, and any even the most cursory do-it-yourself research into estate planning will undoubtedly mention both. Many people ask themselves whether they need a trust or a will and try and determine which will best suit their needs. The fact is that this question presents a false “one or the other scenario.” Most people can benefit from having both, and there are certain things that a will can do that a trust cannot, and vice versa.
The most effective way to create a comprehensive estate plan that will address all of your needs is to discuss your goals with an experienced estate-planning attorney. For this reason, if you’re starting to consider your estate plan, you should schedule a consultation with a lawyer as soon as you can. In the meantime, here is some basic information about wills, trusts, and why it’s a good idea to have both.
A will, or a last will and testament, is a document that indicates what you want to happen to your estate when you pass away. In addition, you can use a will to name a guardian for any minor children you may have and their property, something that you cannot do with a trust. It is important to understand that a will must go through probate, which is a legal process through which the will is proven and its terms carried out. Probate is often lengthy and expensive, and many people do everything they can to pass their assets to certain beneficiaries while avoiding probate. This brings us directly to our next topic…
A trust is a legal relationship between the person who creates the trust (the grantor), the person who holds the assets of the trust (the trustee), and the person or people for whom the trustee holds the assets (the beneficiary or beneficiaries). As alluded to above, one of the main benefits of placing assets into a trust is that they can pass directly to beneficiaries without probate. In order to for this to happen, however, the assets must actually be placed into the trust, and it’s easy to forget to include things when creating a trust. For this reason, it’s advisable to use a will as a backup to a trust, so that you make sure that anything you leave out goes to the party you want it to. Without a will, Missouri intestacy law will determine how the court will distribute any leftover assets, which may or may not reflect your wishes.
Call a St. Louis Estate Planning Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
Estate planning is a complicated area of law, and it’s important for everyone to consider the future. Attorney Kenneth P. Carp is an experienced estate-planning lawyer who will review your circumstances at no cost to you and advise you as to your options. To schedule an appointment with Mr. Carp, contact us online or call our office today at (636) 947-3600.