When considering various estate planning options, many Pennsylvania residents feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options. One of the biggest choices to be made involves which vehicle is best suited to hand down assets: wills or trusts. While each family has a unique set of needs, trusts are an attractive option for many people and provide a number of estate planning benefits over wills.
Perhaps the primary benefit of using a trust to pass down assets is the ability to avoid probate. The probate process is time-consuming, expensive and often very frustrating to those left behind to manage the process. With a trust, the assets placed within that vehicle will pass on to the named parties in a very efficient manner, outside of the probate process.
Another advantage that trusts have over wills is a greater level of protection for your heirs. When assets are placed within a trust, those assets become the property of the trust itself and not the trustees. Trustees have the ability to access those assets as designated within the language of the trust. However, those assets are protected from creditors and the property division process within divorce. This means that the wealth that you intend to pass down to a loved one will be received by that individual and not subject to loss based on legal matters.
When considering the differences between trusts and wills, it may be helpful to gain the advice of an estate planning attorney. He or she can sit down and go over a Pennsylvania family’s asset base and help determine which estate planning tools are best suited to meet the family’s stated goals. Having this guidance can make it far easier to construct an estate planning package that is customized to one’s wishes.
Source: CBS News, “5 reasons you need a trust, not a will“, Ray Martin, Sept. 17, 2015