The One Document Your Family Can’t Live Without 

According to a recent YouGov for’s 2024 Wills and Estate Planning Study survey, a significant majority of Americans, specifically two out of three, have not yet put any estate planning documents in order. If you find yourself among this group, it’s important to understand that failing to create an estate plan can lead to your assets becoming entangled in legal proceedings and distributed in ways that may not align with your intentions.

It’s never too early to start planning your estate, even if you’re a mid-career professional juggling work and family obligations.

The terms “living trust” and “revocable trust” are often used interchangeably, and here are three compelling reasons why using such a trust under either name can be a prudent choice for your estate planning:

Control Now and in the Future: 

A living trust enables you to assign a trustee to manage and distribute your assets both during your lifetime and after your passing. You can serve as the trustee or designate a successor to handle the final distribution during your lifetime. What’s more, you can amend or revoke the trust as needed to adapt to changing circumstances, which is why it’s referred to as “revocable.”

Avoiding Probate:

In contrast to a last will and testament, a trust generally does not require the probate process, a public and potentially time-consuming legal procedure. Many people opt for trusts to bypass probate, and trusts also offer the benefit of privacy, unlike wills.

Comprehensive Wishes: 

In addition to your financial assets, a living trust enables you to include your preferences regarding your medical care, such as decisions regarding resuscitation, feeding tubes, or respirators. However, addressing your healthcare wishes in specialized documents like power-of-attorney and medical directives is advisable. Consulting with an attorney can be particularly beneficial regarding this matter.

While end-of-life planning can be emotionally challenging and seem daunting, a living trust can simplify matters for you and your loved ones, offering control, flexibility, and privacy. While the initial cost may be higher than a basic will, a simple living trust can be surprisingly affordable, reducing the surprises and difficulties your family might encounter during this challenging period.

DIY options are available, but seeking guidance from an experienced estate attorney is advisable. A thoughtfully crafted living trust ensures a secure transition of your estate to your heirs and minimizes potential legal complications.

Despite the initial investment of time and resources, having a well-structured estate plan can be an invaluable gift to your family’s future. It helps mitigate conflicts and uncertainties while providing your loved ones with stability and financial security during an emotionally taxing time.