Will-Based Estate Plan
or $149 for couples
Trust-Based Estate Plan
or $499 for couples
A will is sufficient for most of us. A will is complete and legally valid once it has been signed, so it is low-cost and simple to prepare. If you change your mind, it is simple to revoke a will and prepare a new one.
A will goes through the probate court, which sometimes involves a long, drawn-out family dispute. Once in court, a will is not private; it is public record. If you have property in multiple states, you may need to go through ancillary probate proceedings in each state. A will becomes effective only upon your death.
A trust allows you to avoid probate court (meaning it is private), which means faster distribution. Property in multiple states may be distributed without additional proceedings. A trust is effective immediately and can be managed until your death.
Trusts generally have higher preparation costs as you are required to retitle your assets in the name of the trust, which takes time and money. If assets aren’t retitled, they will not pass through the trust and will instead go through probate.
A will is sufficient for most of us, but if you have a larger estate and want to avoid the probate court process, a trust may be better for you. If you want your spouse to manage your assets after your death, then have all your separate and marital assets distributed to your descendants after both of you pass away, you may want to create a Joint Trust. No matter which you choose, you will be able to distribute your estate, leave charitable bequests, and specify your final wishes.