Few Washington parents take the time to create an estate plan, but those who do often believe wills are the best way to ensure their children obtain the assets parents leave behind. However, a careful examination of trusts may show that these tools can offer benefits wills do not. While a will is a good place to start when creating an estate plan, a trust can save money, offer privacy and protect heirs who may be vulnerable.
At face value, a will may be cheaper to execute than a trust. However, a will must go through the probate process, which typically requires additional attorney fees and court costs. Many parents like the fact that a trust allows their children access to their inheritance immediately rather than having to wait months for the probate process to end. Additionally, the contents of a trust are not a matter of public record like those of a will, so families can protect their privacy.
Another way in which a trust can protect families is by holding and managing assets for vulnerable heirs, such as those who are minors or who have special needs. Whereas a will simply distributes the entire inheritance, a trust can contain terms and instructions for when and how the heirs obtain their money, such as a reasonable monthly allowance. This can prevent an heir from burning through an inheritance or losing government benefits after obtaining a large payout.
There are many other benefits to adding trusts to estate plans. Every family is unique, so every estate plan will have its special considerations. An experienced estate planning attorney can offer reliable guidance for those in Washington who have questions about how best to protect their families.