Forbes magazine recently featured a column addressing the question of whether most Americans should have a revocable living trust as part of their overall estate plan. In the author’s view, many estate planning attorneys suggest that everyone should have a trust, while most Americans don’t even have a simple will. Since there is an investment of time and money involved in setting up a trust, the decision is one that should be given some thought.
Factors to consider include:
– How much of your estate can be shielded from probate (click here for the definition of probate)?
– Will your estate qualify for a simple probate?
– How expensive is probate in your state?
– Do you own real estate out-of-state?
– Are you comfortable with details of your estate being made public through probate?
– Do you have a child with special needs?
– Do you have a taxable estate?
If you decide to have a trust prepared for you, it’s essential that you work with a qualified estate planning lawyer. A great source for referrals is your local bar association’s lawyer referral service. You can also use the search feature on the websites of estate planning organizations like the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils and Wealth Counsel.
Regardless of whether or not you decide to set up a trust, you’ll need to revisit your plan as your needs and the laws change over time. Finally, while it’s easy to put off thinking about potential incapacity and your own mortality, you should resist the urge to procrastinate. Otherwise, by the time you need your estate plan, it will be too late.
You can read the entire September 12, 2014 Forbes article here.