When faced with the issue of deciding how to go about devising your estate to your family and loved ones, the sheer amount of options can be overwhelming. Many people think a simple will is the best way to distribute their estate. While a will is certainly better than nothing (and roughly 50% of Americans do not have a will, so if you have one you’re doing pretty good!) at our office we point to three major benefits of having a trust over a will: Cost, Privacy, and Control.
One disadvantage of only using a will is your loved ones will have to go through what is called “probate” in order to actually receive what you left to them.
“Probate” refers to the court proceeding whereby a judge determines what the terms of your will are and who gets what. This probate process can become a bitter, arduous process if there was no will, if you left certain terms of your will ambiguous, or if your loved ones disagree on who should get what. A particularly bad probate experience can tear a family apart. Regardless of how contentious the probate process is, the cost of probate in Tennessee is typically at least $1,500 to $3,000, and can go much higher than that depending on the complexity of the estate.
Additionally, the probate process is public record, meaning that your assets are publicized. The reason for this is so that creditors are put on notice that they need to make any claims they have against the estate. Aside from the discomfort many may have with their assets being made public, the publication of your assets can also lead to “inheritance scams,” where predators find the publication of your estate and try to trick your family out of some or all of their inheritance.
One last concern that can arise with a will is that your control of your assets after your passing is more limited than with a trust. The reason for this is once the court completes the probate process, it does not want to get involved with the management of your assets. With a trust, however, your assets will be managed by a trustee, a person or persons given the job of ensuring your assets are distributed as you wanted long after your passing.
Because of the inevitable cost of probate, the benefits of keeping your assets private, and the additional control you have over your assets with a trust, at Adam Rodrigues Law we encourage our clients to place their assets in trust. For the same price or cheaper than you are likely to pay in the probate process, you can place all of your assets in what is called a “Revocable Living Trust.” By doing this you will avoid probate, and the distribution of your assets will go through the hands of a trusted trustee instead of the probate court. Moreover, if you are interested in setting up any asset protection for some of your assets, we can also discuss how some form of an Irrevocable Trust might be suitable for you.