Trying to decide what estate planning strategy to use is difficult. Finding the right estate planning attorney can help to clarify whether or not a Will, Trust, or a combination of both is helpful.
When to Use a Will
Your Will is a common, basic document that offers guidance on how you want the Probate Court to manage your property when you pass away. Most Wills contain an appointed personal representative to represent the creator’s wishes to the Probate Judge. Wills also contain the names of beneficiaries. One of the most useful functions of a Will is that it allows parents to name a guardian for their minor or disabled children. At a basic level, a Will is your set of instructions for your property. Wills only function in Probate Court and are only activated when the creator passes away. If you are incompetent or incapacitated through dementia, a stroke or other condition, a Will has no effect whatsoever.
When to Use a Trust
A Trust adds protection, control and privacy to those assets you place inside of it. Trusts allow you to avoid probate and manage distribution of assets during life and after death. Certain types of Trust also allow you to protect your assets from creditors and predators including lawsuits, medical costs, nursing home expenses and Medicaid. Trusts give you much greater flexibility for your individual planning concerns and goals.
Trusts can provide benefits during the creator’s life as well as after death. Since Trusts can last for a long time, the creator has more control over what happens to the assets placed inside. Unlike Wills, Trusts are not subject to probate and can enable asset protection against creditors in the future.
You might need a combination of a Will and a Trust for your estate planning purposes. Only an estate planning lawyer can help you figure out what’s right for you. To know how to approach your Michigan estate planning process and what the next steps are, please attend one of our educational workshops or schedule a complimentary consultation today.