How To Choose Between A Will Or Trust

1. Is privacy important to you?

A. No, I don’t mind that the distribution of my estate is public record via the Probate Court. (0 points)

B. Yes, I want to keep how much I have and where it goes between me and my heirs. (1 point)

2. Do you or your spouse have children from a previous marriage?

A. No (0 points)

B. Yes but we view our children as part of one big family (0 points)

C. Yes and it’s important that they are cared for along with my spouse (1 point)

3. Do you have a family member that will require help managing their inheritance upon your passing or that qualifies for government assistance?

A. No (0 points)

B. Yes, I have someone I care about that either needs help managing money or whose government benefits would be compromised by inheriting money from me (1 point)

4. Do you own a lot of assets besides your home, retirement accounts and life insurance?

A. No, that’s pretty much it (0 points)

B. Yes, I/we have a notable amount in brokerage accounts and other savings that won’t pass by beneficiary of law (1 point)

5. Do you or your spouse own a business?

A. No (0 points)

B. Yes, one or both of us has a business that would need to be wound down or passed along upon death (1 point)

6. Do you own property in another state such as a vacation or rental property?

A. No (0 points)

B. Yes (1 point)

7. Do you expect to have a taxable estate?

A. No (0 points)

B. Not under current law, but if it changed, I might (1 point)

C. Yes (1 point)


Add up your total points to review what might make the most sense for your situation:

0 points: You will probably be fine with just a Will, which requires you to name an executor and will be processed through the local Probate Court in the county where you live.

1 – 2 points: A Trust probably makes sense for you, although depending on your situation, an Intestate Trust created inside your Will could provide the same benefits of a Living Trust. Consult with an attorney to decide.

2 points or more: Some type of Trust is the best way to ensure that your assets are distributed the way that you wish while also possibly saving on fees, administrative headaches and taxes to your heirs.

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