Probate vs. trust: which is right for your estate?

Comparing the Pros and Cons of Probate and Trusts for Your Estate Planning Needs

Estate planning is an important part of ensuring that your assets are managed and distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. The main way that Laguna Legal helps our clients to prepare their estate is through the setting up of living trusts. If you fail to make plans for what happens to your assets after death, or if you make a will instead of using a living trust, then your loved ones will need to go through the probate process, which can be a lengthy headache and also may be expensive. This article will compare the pros and cons of living trust vs probate for your estate planning needs.

Pros of Wills and/or Probate:

  • Simplicity – A will can be written quickly and easily without needing to hire a lawyer or an estate planner.
  • Peace of Mind – A will gives you peace of mind knowing that your wishes are on record and will be carried out upon your death.
  • Flexibility – Wills are fairly easy to update as life circumstances change, making them ideal for those whose lives and property may be in flux.
  • Court Supervision – Probate is overseen by the court, which helps ensure that assets are distributed according to the will (if you have a will in place) while protecting the interests of those named in it; or helps ensure that assets are distributed to your heirs at law (if you die without a will “intestate”).

Cons of Wills and/or Probate:

  • Expense – The cost of probate can be high, especially if it is contested or the estate is complicated.
  • Time – The probate process can take years to complete and may tie up assets in court until then.
  • Privacy – Probate is a public process which means that many details of an individual’s life and finances become public records.

Pros of Trusts:

  • Privacy – Trusts are kept private, as they are not part of the public record.
  • Speed – Setting up a trust can be done quickly and the assets can be transferred quickly as well.
  • Flexibility – Because trusts are living documents, they can be easily updated to include changes in the estate or family.
  • Cost Savings – Trusts can save on probate costs, as well as taxes and other associated fees.
  • Protection – Trusts can protect assets from creditors, predatory relatives, and other third parties.

Cons of Trusts:

  • Complexity – Setting up a trust requires more advanced planning and is more expensive than setting up a will. However, legal document services like Laguna Legal can help reduce these expenses significantly.
  • Expense – The initial cost of setting up a living trust is likely higher than creating a will.
  • Inability to Make Changes – Once established, a married living trust cannot be changed without the agreement of both spouses who are Trustors of the trust.
  • Professional Assistance – In order to set up an effective trust, one must obtain the help of a specialist in estate planning such as Laguna Legal.

For most people, a living trust is the best option for their estate planning needs. While trusts are more complex to create and may require professional help, they provide greater privacy, speed, flexibility, and cost savings than wills or probate.

Laguna Legal: Living Trust Experts

If you would like to learn more about setting up a living trust with Laguna Legal, please contact us today and schedule a consultation.  During that meeting, we can help you document all your wishes and complete our very simple questionnaire.  Once the completed questionnaire is provided to our office, we will help you create your estate plan.  At Laguna Legal, we make the process of creating legal documents: smooth, simple, and affordable.  Contact us today to learn how we can help you. We look forward to your call!

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