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Do I Need a Trust or a Will or Both?

Often clients ask this question.  In many cases, a simple will is sufficient to handle the estate planning objectives of a client, and the extra time and expense associated with creating and funding a trust (re-titling and deeding property into the name of the trust) is not necessary.  In other instances, a trust will be more beneficial in accomplishing the goals of the client.

As a Jacksonville will and trust lawyer, I help clients establish their testamentary/estate planning goals and help them with the preparation of documents to implement these goals. 

Having Only a Will

Having only a will is usually suitable in the following circumstances:

  • Your estate is relatively modest financially.
  • You do not wish to incur the extra expense of creating and funding a trust.
  • You do not object to the potential time delay or legal expenses incurred as a result of the probate process.
  • You desire court oversight of the probate process.
  • You are able to limit your probate estate by the use of joint tenancies with the right of survivorship (real estate), joint ownership (cars), beneficiaries on CDs, brokerage accounts and life insurance policies and pay on death bank accounts. 
  • You desire that a testamentary trust (trust created by your will) be created upon your death and not a living will.

When a Trust Might be Beneficial

A trust might be beneficial if:

  • Your estate is more than modest financially.
  • Your estate has numerous and/or diverse assets.
  • The legal expenses of creating and funding a trust are not a deterrent.
  • You want to maintain control of the disbursal of your assets after your death (i.e. by age or accomplishment of the beneficiary; frequency and size of payout, etc.).
  • You need to take advantage of federal estate tax limitations.

Please call me for an appointment to discuss the pitfalls that can occur without proper estate planning and the benefits that can occur with proper planning.  I can help you plan for the distribution of your estate so that your objectives are achieved.

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