Which is better to do, a living trust or a last will? 29 Answers as of May 14, 2014

Me and my girlfriend have been together over 5 years now and we both had bad first marriages so we are content with not doing the marriage part again. The other day we started talking about the future and what would happen should one of us pass. I own my home and she lives here with me, should I pass first, I would like her to still continue to stay in the home, we started looking into wills but we came across living trusts also.

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Christine Sabio Socrates Attorney at Law | Christine Socrates
A good estate plan would involve both a living trust and a will as well as possible other possibilities to make sure that your wishes for each other are fulfilled. A consultation with a competent estate planning attorney would be recommended. I would be happy to assist you if you would like. Good luck!
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 5/14/2014
Goldsmith & Guymon
Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
Depending upon how assets are titled and our intentions to create life estates, a trust may be your best bet. Speak with counsel about your objectives and long term goals for your estate plan.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 5/5/2014
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
Trusts generally do not get administered well, and that causes additional costs. The best thing to do is to go to a lawyer (best if it's a different one for each of you) and have a good estate plan drawn up.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 5/5/2014
Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
Living trusts are excellent devices for older couples that are very organized. In order to make a living trust work, you have to transfer assets regularly into the trust as opposed to personally owned. ?You have to track asset sales (if you sell a car owned by the trust, the proceeds are trust money not personal money. With younger couples, there is a tendency to ignore the technicalities of the trust and treat all assets as personal, then when there is a death the judge has no choice but to declare the trust has no assets and then you don't have a will or a trust. As an aside, there are a number of shady life insurance or investment salespeople who push living trusts very hard like they are the solution to every problem but what happens is the second they get your payment for the life insurance, they disappear and you get no help in implementing and maintaining the trust. A living trust is a way to avoid the costs of probate but the cost of a properly executed living trust - for most families is more than the cost of probate. ?Obviously, a wealthy family (assets in excess of $10 million) has entirely different considerations, particularly a family that controls a successful business. For most couples, wills and a careful review of the non-probate assets - (life insurance, IRAs, 401(k)s, annuities, inheritances, pensions and various other assets ARE NOT CONTROLLED BY THE WILL - this is a particular problem where the couple isn't married) are the best option.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 5/2/2014
Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger LLP | Norman H. Green
You should do both as an integrated package.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/2/2014
    Law Offices of Robert Beatson II | Robert Beatson II
    Suggest you talk to a MD Trust and Estate Attorney. There are a number of fact-specific issues under MD law that need to be carefully worked through concerning use of a Will or Trust Instrument and the administration thereof. An experienced trusts and estates attorney should be able to handle this under MD law. Please note that my legal services are available only with a signed engagement agreement in accordance with the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct applicable to attorneys licensed in the state of MD. If I can be of any help to you, contact my offices as I would be pleased to provide legal/tax support.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    James M. Chandler | James M. Chandler
    A living trust ie revocable trust is better.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd.
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd. | Randall C. Romei
    A will is only effective after the death of the creator (testator). A will requires opening a probate and appointing an executor to execute the terms of the will under the supervision of a court. There are extra expenses with a will resulting from opening a probate. An advantage of probate is that it cuts off claims against the estate at 6 months after opening the probate. A living (grantor) trust goes into effect while the creator (grantor) is alive. Assets are placed into the trust when created and can be dealt with by the grantor while alive. The living trust is fully amendable and revocable by the grantor. Successor trustees are named and thus upon the death or incapacity of the grantor the named successor trustee is able to act and deal with the trust estate without having to go to court. A successor trustee's ability to step in for the grantor could help avoid the necessity of a guardianship in the event of a loss of capacity. Creation and amendment of a living trust is not as formal as creation of or changing a will.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Estrada Law P.C. | Michele Ungvarsky
    Living trusts do not have to be probated so there is less chance of a contest. Check with and Estate Planning Attorney to review all of your options.
    Answer Applies to: New Mexico
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    Living trusts can be expensive and time consuming to create and are usually reserved for larger estate ($1 million or more). Wills are much easier to create and can be changed at any time. A simple will would allow you to leave the home to her. Be aware that because you aren't married, there may be tax consequences to consider with either choice. You both should also have living wills, power of attorney for health care, and power of attorney for financial matters that permit the other person to act on your behalf in emergency situations.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Law Office of Andrellos Mitchell
    Law Office of Andrellos Mitchell | Andrellos Mitchell
    You have a lot of options. You really need to talk to an Estate Planning Attorney.
    Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry | Charles R. Perry
    Your situation is sufficiently complex (unmarried couple, real estate that is the separate property of one of the partners) that you need to meet with someone who does estate planning, and perhaps someone who can help you with a separate property agreement. These are not easy conversations to have, as a number of people fear that the separate property agreement is really a "pre-separation" agreement, when it is really a device to set down your desires on paper so that everyone understands and there is no confusion. It is unusual that a person who owns real estate would opt for a will over a living trust, but it happens. The estate planner with whom you consult can evaluate your situation and advise you appropriately.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Darrell B. Reynolds, P.C. | Darrell B. Reynolds
    The will is the proper way to go.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Law Offices of George H. Shers | George H. Shers
    A trust, living Will, avoids the costs and delays of probate but you still need a Will to dispose of any assets you forget to put into the Trust. Since you have a house, you have enough assets to worry about, so you should see a probate and trust attorney to explore what would be best for you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    You both should do your own living trust, if you each gave assets to put into the trust, as you are not married. If you were married, you could do a marital trust. Trust are more flexible than wills as to the future changes that occur in your life.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    Meet with an estate planning attorney to go over the options and determine what is best for you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
    In Maryland, determining which is better (or whether using both is appropriate) depends on what your goals are. Both documents can help meet similar goals, though wills are more common than living trusts. A competent estate planning attorney can advise you on how to meet your goals, and which methods (trust, will, etc.) are best/recommended to use.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    I would advise a living trust is preferable in almost all circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    Trusts are WAY better than Wills. One of the reasons is that trusts allow you to avoid probate. The ultimate distribution might be identical, but going through probate would cost several thousand dollars, to get to that point. Trusts have other benefits, as well, including the fact that it is a private arrangement. There is no court involvement and the documents (and administration and distributions) are not part of the public record. The ONLY drawbacks to a trust are: 1) It costs more; 2) It is more complex; 3) You need to properly "fund" the trust, or it will not provide you with the maximum benefit. You should have the trust set up by an estate planning attorney. You should expect that the cost will be somewhere between $1,000-2,000. In spite of the cost, this is the only way to ensure that your objectives will be met. It also minimizes the risks of any future problems. I am working with a family right now who bought an online trust. It was not set up properly so now, probate is necessary and because of the documents that were used, a more expensive form of probate is required. The family saved $1,000 on setting up the trust, but it will now cost them more than $5,000 to probate the estate.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Law Offices of Robert H. Glorch | Jeffrey R. Gottlieb
    Trusts would work best for the situation you describe. You should also consider powers of attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Law Office of Jeffrey T. Reed | Jeffrey T. Reed
    If you own your home a trust is a better way to go. You can setup the trust with you both as co-trustees so the survivor would take whatever property is in the trust. You can also designate what happens to the property after both of you pass. A trust is easily revocable if need be, as is a will. A less expensive and possibly easier way to handle this is to put your girlfriend on the deed as joint tenant with right of survivorship. This would give her the house if something happens to you. I don?t know if there are other heirs to consider, if so, the trust may be a better way to go. Another consideration is that a trust avoids probate where a will would have to go through probate to transfer title with the related probate fees on top.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Patrick W. Currin, Attorney at Law | Patrick Currin
    A trust is better, avoiding probate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
    A trust will cost more now, but will save your estate a bundle. It depends on when you want to spend the money.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    John Ceci PLLC
    John Ceci PLLC | John Ceci
    That question can only be answered by meeting with an attorney and discussing the specifics of your situation more in-depth. Some people's situations and desires are such that a Will is sufficient and a trust is unnecessary; with others a trust is a an option (but is still not necessary); for others a trust is a must in order to accomplish their objectives. If you live near my area feel free to contact me and set up an appointment to discuss this further. I do estate planning for fixed fees so you'll know what it will cost to accomplish your objectives.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/2/2014
    The Center for Elder Law
    The Center for Elder Law | Don Rosenberg
    For your circumstances the best method to use is a living trust.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/1/2014
    The Law Office of David L. Leon
    The Law Office of David L. Leon | David L. Leon
    It depends on what you want to accomplish and the complexity of your estate. For most couples, a will does the trick. If you have a more complicated estate, or you have issues of capacity, a trust may be preferable.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 5/1/2014
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
    Best choice is a living trust. If it is well written it can handle your situation very well.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/1/2014
    Attorney At Law | James G. Maguire
    I usually recommend a will. You can easily protect each other this way, especially if your estates are simple.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 5/1/2014
    Robert E. Giffin | Robert E. Giffin CPA
    You should do both.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 5/1/2014
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