If you’re like many people, when you think about how you’re going to pass your assets to future generations, you think about a will. To be sure, a will is a cornerstone of any comprehensive estate plan, but it’s important to understand that, by itself, a will is often insufficient to meet your estate planning goals, and passing your assets to future generations using a will can cost your family time and money.
Wills Have Several Disadvantages
While a will can certainly control where your assets go after you pass away, any property passed through a will must go through a process known as probate, which can be time-consuming and expensive. In addition, any transfers that occur during probate become part of the public record, which means that anyone with enough curiosity could learn intimate details about your and your family’s finances.
A Will Does Not Help You Plan for Incapacity
Another reason to have more than “just” a will in your estate plan is that a will does not make arrangements for what will happen in the event that you become incapacitated because of injury or illness. For this reason, you should also execute documents such as a healthcare power of attorney (appointing an individual to make healthcare decisions for you) and a healthcare directive or “living will” (directing medical professionals the level of care to provide in the event of your incapacitation).
The Benefits of a Living Trust
For many people, using a trust instead of a will to pass their assets to future generations has substantial advantages. Perhaps foremost of these is the fact that assets that are passed to beneficiaries through a living trust do not need to go through probate, saving time and money and providing your family with privacy.
But You Still Need a Will!
All of this discussion about what a will cannot do and why a trust is often a better mechanism to transfer assets may be giving you the impression that you may not need a will at all. This is certainly not true, and every good estate plan includes a will. There are certain things that you can do with a will that you cannot accomplish with a trust, such as provide for the guardianship of any minor children you may have or forgive debts. In addition, if you forget to put certain assets into your trust, a “pour-over will” (one that directs any leftover assets into the trust) will ensure that all of your assets are accounted for. Without one, any leftover assets will be distributed according to Utah’s laws of intestate succession, which will almost certainly not reflect your wishes.
Call Craig Dell Attorneys Today to Speak with a Utah Estate Planning Lawyer
Whether you already have an existing estate plan or are starting from scratch, it’s important that you discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer. To schedule a free case evaluation with an estate planning attorney in Utah, call our office today at 801-783-2515 or contact us online.