Living Trust Versus a Will
Provided by Christina Bush, CES, CAS, CMFC
Wealth Manager/Certified Estate and Trust Specialist
Everyone should have a will.
If you die without a valid will in place, state law will determine how your assets are distributed to your heirs.
The question is, when do you need more than just a will?
You see the ads all the time: “Should you have a living trust?” The more complex your estate becomes, the greater the need for an estate strategy. A living trust could play a role in that strategy.
While not everyone needs a living trust, some estates create them with an eye toward streamlining the transfer of specific assets.*
*Using a trust involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward with a trust, consider working with a professional who is familiar with the rules and regulations.
Why a living trust?
Think of a living trust as a step up from a basic will. It is designed to carry out the basic functions of a last will and testament, and in addition, it also offers you (the trustee) four important potential benefits.
First, assets in a properly written and funded living trust are positioned to potentially avoid probate. Wills are commonly probated, especially if an estate is large or complex. In some states, the probate process can drag on for months, even years.1,2
Second, a living trust is a private document. A will filed in probate court enters the public record, and may be examined by anyone. There may be financial circumstances and beneficiary decisions that you wish to keep private, especially with regard to your legacy or your reputation.3
Third, a living trust strategy can incorporate a financial or health care power of attorney. These documents can instruct your loved ones on what to do if you become severely disabled, gravely ill, or incapacitated. They give a trusted party the power to act legally on your behalf. Additionally, with a living trust, your spouse (or other alternate trustee) can be instructed to manage your affairs as soon as you are unable to, without courts interfering.4,5
(It must be noted that not all financial institutions will recognize a durable power of attorney by itself, especially if it was created some time ago. There are also occasions when they may not recognize a valid living trust.)4
Fourth, a living trust lets you transfer assets to your heirs with conditions attached, if you so desire. You can control the way assets are distributed, even after you die.
Typically, a living trust is revocable. That means that you can make changes to its terms while you are alive. Upon your death, it becomes irrevocable, meaning its terms cannot be changed unless all the named beneficiaries of the trust approve the changes.1
Why not a living trust?
Okay, so with all these potential advantages ... why doesn’t everyone have a living trust? The fact is, some people have relatively simple estates, and not everyone needs a living trust – at least not right away.
A well-written will and durable power of attorney may suffice until you hit your sixties. If you are married and pass away before then, the assets you and your spouse hold in joint tenancy or as community property may transfer to your spouse without being probated.6
Should you create a living trust in your forties or fifties, you may end up revising the trust again and again over the decades to come. Certain life events - such as a divorce or a marriage - may demand that the trust be updated. There is also another risk worth noting - the risk that you might forget to revise a trust created “eons ago.”
Some people do get lax with their living trusts in another way – they have one drawn up, but they never transfer any assets into it. They treat it like an “option” they can use in the future. If they die without placing their investment accounts, real estate, etc. into the trust, those assets could be exposed to probate. If so, the trust will be meaningless.
Why not a will and a trust?
You may want (or need) to have both. Chances are, you will not put 100% of your assets into a living trust; your will can direct where assets left outside the trust should go when you die.
Alternately, a pour-over will may be used to transfer designated assets held outside the trust into the trust, to help your estate distribute those assets according to the trust terms. So, wills and trusts can work hand-in-hand.7
What’s right for you?
You may be wondering whether a living trust is appropriate. Or you may have one, but believe it needs revisiting. You may sense that you need to adopt an estate strategy, or expand one. Trusts are complex, and a professional can help. I can be your resource for ideas and answers. Contact me, so that we may begin our search for those answers together. I am happy to speak with you.
This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc. for use by Christina Bush, Wealth Manager.
Get in Touch
Have a Question?
CB Wealth Advisory - Private Wealth Management
Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer and Member FINRA.org and SIPC.org; Advisory services offered through Cooper McManus, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm; Christina Bush, Investment Advisor Representative. CB Wealth Advisory, Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. and Cooper McManus are separate entities.
This site is published for residents of the United States and is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security or product that may be referenced herein. Persons mentioned on this website may only offer services and transact business and/or respond to inquiries in states or jurisdictions in which they have been properly registered or are exempt from registration. Not all products and services referenced on this site are available in every state, jurisdiction or from every person listed. Third party posts found on this profile do not reflect the views of Securities America and have not been reviewed by Securities America as to accuracy or completeness.
Christina Bush, licensed insurance agent: CA Insurance license #0B48734 - FL Insurance license #W050514 - NC Insurance license #2620839 - WA Insurance license # 787335
FINRA BROKER CHECK FINRA.org
A prospectus offer is required by SEC Rule 482(b)(1) that advises an investor to consider the investment objectives, risks and charges and expenses of an investment company carefully before investing; explains that the prospectus, and, if available, the summary prospectus contains this and other information about the investment company; identifies a source from which an investor may obtain a prospectus and, if available, a summary prospectus; and states that the prospectus and, if available, the summary prospectus should be read carefully before investing.
IMPORTANT CONSUMER INFORMATION
For information concerning the licensing status or disciplinary history of a BD, IA, BD agent, or IA rep, a consumer should contact his or her state securities law administrator.
Securities in accounts are carried by National Financial Services, LLC, member NYSE/SIPC, a Fidelity Investment Company, which is protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) up to $500,000 (including cash claims limited to $100,000). NFS has arranged for additional insurance protection for cash and securities to supplement its' SIPC coverage. This additional protection covers total account net equity in excess of the $500,000/coverage provided by SIPC. This protection does not cover losses associated with investing.
For detailed information about SIPC, please visit SIPC.org.
All Photos By Christina Bush
Copyright 2020 by Christina Bush/CB Wealth Advisory