When people begin the process of estate planning, they often have several questions about what course of action would be in their best interest, or in the best interests of their surviving family members and loved ones. One frequently asked question asks what the difference is between a simple will and a living trust.
Is one option a better choice than the other?
The answer really depends on your particular situation. However, for most typical family situations, a good choice is to use a living trust to transfer your property upon your death.
When you prepare a will as your sole means of transferring your property upon your death, your will must go through the probate court, which can be complicated and your surviving family members could end up fighting over your will once you are gone. However, using a revocable living trust, which you can prepare while you are still alive, can help your family avoid probate after you pass on. Individuals who are looking to exercise more control over their property may find that a living trust is a useful estate planning tool. One of the estate planning attorneys at our firm can help you prepare a declaration of trust at your convenience.
Five Advantages to Using a Living Trust Over a Will
Below are examples of the advantages of using a living trust over a will.
1. Property transferred through a living trust will not go through probate. Probate is a long, tedious, and costly process before the probate court where the validity of the will is demonstrated, all debts held by the decedent are paid off, and then the remaining property is distributed to the family members. The more complicated the decedent’s estate is upon his or her death, the more complicated and drawn out probate can be.
2. Out-of-state property transferred through a living trust can avoid ancillary probate. When property is located out of state, instead of having to go through probate in each state, a living trust can allow for the property of out-of-state property without ancillary, or out-of-state probate.
3. Getting the opportunity to manage your property during your lifetime. By being the settlor of your own living trust, you retain control over the trust until you decide that you want to hand over the reigns or you die.
4. Living trusts remain confidential, wills are not. Since probate is a legal proceeding, if your will goes through probate, your will becomes part of the probate court records, which are made available for public inspection.
5. The successor trustee is able to take over once the principal is disabled which is a huge advantage. The “seamless” transition of control over the trust and the trust corpus upon the disability of the grantor is a huge advantage of the trust over the will.
Getting Legal Help with Living Trusts
If you think that a living trust might be the best estate planning tool for you, please feel free to contact one of our experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys today. Our law firm serves the communities of Crystal Lake, Palatine, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Long Grove, Kenilworth, Riverwoods, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and Arlington Heights. Call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.
About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.