A properly drafted will or trust is essential for anyone that has assets to leave to heirs. Either a will or a trust allows you to designate anyone you wish as beneficiaries. Both a will and a “revocable living trust” allow you to identify who the heirs to your assets will be.
The main difference between the two is that assets held in a trust will avoid probate upon your passing, which is inhibitive to the heirs and costly. A trust structured as a revocable living trust can help shelter family assets from taxes by properly placing assets within the trust. Currently, the first $5.6 million (per individual) $11.1 million (per married couple) is excluded from estate taxes with any assets over that amount taxed at the Federal Estate Tax rate.
If you own property in another state, a living trust eliminates the need to probate that property in that state. A living trust can immediately transfer management of your property if you become incapacitated either physically or mentally. There is no need to go to court to appoint a guardian or conservator.
If you choose to create a living trust, you should also create what is called a pour-over will. It provides for the distribution of any property that is not included in the trust. It will also allow you to name a guardian for any minor children.
Tax laws and financial planning techniques are always changing. One thing is for certain though – the benefit of having a will or a trust.
Kent G. Forsey, CFP®
Source: IRS, OneBlueWindow, LLC ©