Trusts or Wills: Which Is Better For Your Estate?

Because of increases in some states in the use of trusts in place of a traditional Will, many of our clients often ask which is better, a trust or a Will?  To answer this question, it is important to consider the attributes of each:

What Is A Will?

A Will is a document that a person executes during their lifetime to go into effect only upon their later death.  The Will can serve several purposes:  it can lay out how the person’s assets will be divided upon death, it can appoint a guardian of the person’s children, and it can appoint a trustee to manage the person’s assets for his minor children.

What Is A Living Trust?

A living trust is generally perceived as a substitute for a traditional Will.  The trust is created during a person’s lifetime, and all of that person’s assets are transferred into the trust when it is created.  Thereafter, the trust can be amended, changed, or revoked at any time prior to the person’s death.  However, when the person dies, the assets in the trust will be distributed pursuant to the terms of the trust agreement, rather than according to the provisions of a Will.  In some states, the probate laws are so difficult that the living trust eases the process at death of distributing assets.  In Texas, however, as a general rule, the living trust provides only limited benefits over a traditional Will.

The selection of the best method for handling your assets upon death, either by Will or by Trust, is a question that requires solid consultation with a qualified attorney.  Should you be wrestling with this question, please contact us so that we may help you understand all of the considerations involved in making this decision.