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Is it Better to Have a Trust or a Will?

12.06.17 03:59 PM


Is it Better to Have a Trust or a Will?

Posted on June 12, 2017 by Case Law Firm

The simple answer is that either one will do, depending on your specific circumstances.

The key is to have some form of estate plan. It is essential to have a trust or a will, or a combination of both. Your particular estate plan will depend upon your marital status, your plans for your heirs, and the extent of your estate. If you fail to establish an estate plan, you are assigning your wealth to the government to distribute for you according to its terms.

For example, if you die leaving behind your spouse and your parents and you have no estate plan, your spouse will inherit the first $100,000 of your intestate property and three-quarters of the balance. The remainder of the intestate property will go to your parents. This may not be what your spouse wants, and it may not be what your parents need. Make an estate plan and control your own wealth while protecting your loved ones.

Without an updated estate plan one of the following scenarios could happen to you and your family.

Scenario 1 – a significant life-changing event:  In 1990 you marry Jane Doe and you execute a will which leaves your entire estate to Jane, even in the event of a later divorce. In 2000, Jane runs off with the family accountant and divorces you. You meet and marry the lovely Sue Smith in 2005 and live happily until your untimely death in 2010 leaving an estate valued at two million dollars. Guess who inherits? That’s right, Jane the cheat. The accountant closes his practice and they move to an island in the Caribbean. Sue may have a right to elect a life estate of one-third. 

Scenario 2 – a significant change in wealth:  In 1990 you have an estate valued at $50,000. You are married with two children. Your will leaves all your estate outright to your wife Mary. In 2000 you win the lottery. Yay! Your estate upon your death in 2010 is valued at five million dollars. Mary will not pay estate taxes under current law because of the unlimited marital deduction, but when she passes the estate to the two children at her death, estate taxes will significantly reduce the amount left to the children. This could have been avoided by creating a trust.  

If you have reached the age of 18, you need to begin estate planning. If you have an estate plan in place, you need to review it to ensure that it meets your current family and financial situation. We will be happy to meet with you to determine how a trust or will, or a combination of both, will work for you. Please call our office at (860) 391-6393 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. 

-Tina Case, Esq.

Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 391-6393. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.