The first thing most parents say when they call us is "I need a will!" When we sit down with them to talk about their family's goals, what most families realize is that they don't really want a will---they want a family trust. So, we thought we would explain why so you can make an educated decision for your family about what is best for you and, ultimately, for them.
What is the Difference Between a Will-based plan and a Trust-based plan?
A Will-based plan is an estate plan that does not include a Living Trust to hold title to your assets. If you work with us and choose our Family Plan, which is a will-based plan, your legal documents will include a Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Advance Directive, HIPAA Release, Homestead Declaration (if you own a home), and, if you have minor children, a Kids Protection Plan® organized in a custom, comprehensive Family Affairs Legal Manual.
A Trust-based plan is an estate plan that does include a Living Trust to hold title to your assets during your lifetime and to provide for ease of transfer of those assets in the event of your incapacity or death. If you work with us and choose our Trust Plan or Wealth Plan, your legal documents will include all of the documents included in the Family Plan PLUS one or more Living Trusts.
So, what’s the practical difference?
The difference between a Will-based plan and a Trust-based plan is that without a Trust in place your family would have to go to Court to get access to your assets in the event of your incapacity or death.
Your Will indicates WHO you want to have access to those assets and how you want them distributed, but it does not keep your family out of the Court process. Going through probate (or guardianship in the event of incapacity) is expensive, time-consuming, totally public and unnecessary. And that’s what happens when you have only a Will in place and not a Trust.
When you have a Trust in place, there is a bit more work for you to do upfront because you need to make sure that all of your assets are owned in the Trust throughout your lifetime (or insurance assets are beneficiary designated to the Trust), but we help you with that or even do it for you. However, the Trust also provides valuable estate tax planning provisions and asset protection to provide for and protect your family for generations.
And, with our regular review process or membership plan, we continue to make sure your assets are owned the right way throughout your lifetime, while also ensuring your plan stays up to date as your life changes, your assets change and even the law changes.
During your Family Plan Session, we will walk you through an assessment of whether a Will-Based Plan or Trust-Based Plan is right for you based on the specifics of your family circumstances, what you own now and where you are going in the future. One thing you can be sure of is that we will help you make the right decisions every step of the way. Call to schedule a Family Plan Session at (978) 296-4140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wilson, lf is a family-focused boutique law firm specializing in estate planning located in Andover, Massachusetts and Washington, DC. We help parents like you organize your affairs, in style, to protect your investments and provide for your loved ones. We are so passionate about providing "a plan for every family" that we meet families throughout Massachusetts and DC in their homes or offices and have some evening and weekend appointments available every month for utmost convenience. www.wilsonlf.com