Whether or not you want to create a living trust is a deeply personal choice and all aspects of such a decision, both good and bad, need to be fully considered. A living trust is when you give ownership of your assets and estate to a trust, without giving up your own rights to the property while you are still alive. You can still manage or change the trust as you see fit. As long as you are living, the trust will be under your control (or the control of your trustee if you are incapacitated).
To decide whether or not you should create a living trust, you first need to determine what the advantages are for your specific situation. We have created three steps that will help you to decide:
- Read the following statements and jot down which ones apply to you:
A) It is important to me to avoid estate taxes;
B) Avoiding estate taxes is not a big factor in my decision.
A) It is important to me that my estate does not go through probate;
B) Avoiding probate is not a big factor in my decision.
A) I prefer privacy from the courts and public records;
B) Privacy is not an issue for me.
A) I want as much control as possible over what happens to my estate after I pass, without interference from the courts;
B) I want to make many of the decisions, but would not have a problem with my decisions being overturned in court.
A) I want the ability to elect a third party to oversee my estate, so that they can make decisions for me in the event that I am incapacitated;
B) I don't want to elect a third party to oversee my estate if I cannot.
- Those questions which you have answered "A" represent the advantages that a living trust would have for you. Those questions which you answered "B" represent the advantages that would not be beneficial to you, since they are not an important factor in your decision.
- If you answered "A" to three or more of the above statements, a living trust would be the perfect situation for your assets. A living trust would give you the means to have as much control as possible over what happens to your estate and avoid having your assets go through the probate process, which would keep them from the public eye and allow you as much privacy as possible. If you are unable to make important decisions regarding your estate while still alive, a living trust would also allow you to appoint a third party to make these decisions for you. If you answered "B" to three or more of the above statements, you may want to consider other options for your estate first.
The above statements are important because knowing which particular advantages a living trust has for you will help make your decision easier. If you are well informed and have full confidence in the decision you have made, you will not have to spend your last few years worrying if you have done right by your loved ones.