1. A living trust brings all of your assets together under one single estate plan with ONE set of instructions.

This arrangement makes your wishes easier to carry out. Trusts are designed to facilitate the distribution of your estate in that it will be simplified, unambiguous, and clear-cut. Provisions made to ensure the correct titling of your assets/beneficiary designations from your retirement savings plans and life insurance policies are given the highest priority. This preemptive action guards against legal contests and family squabbles that can easily erupt due to poor estate planning.

2. A clearly written and legally correct living trust is a private matter which is not obligated to be a part of the public record, plus they are not easily prone to litigation (as wills frequently are). Probate is a court supervised set of procedures that are mandated by law to be carried out in public.

Disappointed or disinherited heirs are free to retain counsel to contest the validity of your will, and to call into question your state of mind when you signed/executed it. In addition, opportunists with varying motivations and self-interests can gain easy access to your family’s personal and financial information. This results in unnecessary expenses, animosity, and delays in settling your estate. Having a trust in place bypasses this very real possibility entirely.

3. A trust can help you avoid court interference should you become incapacitated.

Any reasonable person would much rather have their long-term care and assets managed privately by those they know and trust. Without having appointed a trustee/attorney beforehand, the probate court must become involved and appoint a conservator to conduct your financial affairs. Assuredly, legal fees/costs and the potential embarrassment to your family will result from this type of proceeding. Just like with contesting the credence of a will, this legal process will be available for all eyes to see.

4. Just as trusts avoid probate, real property owned in other states must be probated if you only have a will.

If you own real estate in other parts of the country, then your surviving family members will need to pay for locally licensed legal counsel to prove their claims of successor ownership for each property held by your estate. A will must be verified and enforced by the court in order to settle your bequests, so your heirs need to be prepared to pay significantly to advocate and protect their interests.