No Will, A Will, Trust, What’s the Difference?

No Will, Will, Trust, What’s the Difference?

WITH  NO WILL

WITH  A WILL

With A Living Trust

At Incapacity*(unable to handle your financial affairs) Court Control: Court appointee must keep

detailed records, report  to court, and usually post bond (even if appointee is your spouse). Court oversees financial affairs, approves expenses.

Court Control: Same as with no will. No Court Control: Your successor trustee manages your financial affairs accord­ing to your instructions for as long as necessary.
Court Costs & Legal Fees Impossible to estimate. Court and at­torney usually involved until you recover or die, Same as with no will. Usually no court costs. Reduced legal fees. (Some attorney assistance will be helpful.)
At Death Probate: Court orders your debts paid and   assets   distributed   according to state law. Probate: Debts paid and assets dis­tributed according to your will   (if valid and no contests are successful). No Probate: Debts paid and assets dis­tributed by successor trustee according to your trust’s instructions.
Court Costs & Legal Fees Your estate pays all court costs, legal and executor fees (often estimated at 3-8% or more of an estate’s value). Same as with no will. Costs can in­crease if will is contested. Usually no court costs. Reduced legal fees (minimal for small estates; larger/ complicated estates require more).
Time Usually nine months to two years or longer before heirs can inherit. Same as with no will. Can be just weeks. Larger estates may take longer for estate tax filing, division of assets into new trusts.
Flexibility and Control None: Court procedures, not your fam­ily, have control at incapacity and death. When you die, assets are distributed ac­cording to state law (probably not what you would have wanted). Limited: Same as no will except   as­sets are distributed when you die ac­cording to your will (if valid and no contests are successful). Will can be changed until incapacity. Maximum: You can change/discontinue trust until incapacity. Assets stay under control of your trust, even at incapacity and after your death. More difficult than a will to contest.
Privacy None: Court proceedings are public record. Family can be exposed to dis­gruntled heirs, unscrupulous solicitors. None: Same as with no will. Maximum: Living trusts are not public record. Your family can take care of your financial affairs privately.
Minor Child Court Control: Court controls inheritance, appoints guardian.   All decisions and financial transactions require court ap­proval. Child receives full inheritance at legal age. Court Control: Same as with no will. Children’s trust in a will provides limited protection, but will must be probated first and cannot go into ef­fect at your incapacity. Minimal Court Control. Trustee you select manages inheritance and provides funds for expenses until child reaches age(s) you specify. Court approves guardian, but has no control over inheritance.
Court Costs  & Legal Fees Impossible to estimate. Court and attor­ney usually involved until child reaches legal age.    All costs paid from child’s inheritance. Same as with no will. Costs may be less with children’s trust in a will. Minimal. Legal fees only as attorney is needed/desired. (Some attorney assis­tance can be helpful.)

“Advance directive for health care/health care proxy can prevent court interference in medical decisions.