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Why Does a Living Trust Cost More to Set Up than a Will?

It will probably cost more initially to set up a well-drafted living trust than to have a will prepared. A true cost comparison should include not only the expense to establish the will or trust, but also what it will cost should you become incapacitated and after you die. The Key Takeaways:

  • A living trust document has more provisions than a will because it deals with issues while you are living and after you die, while a will only deals with issues that occur after your death.

  • A properly prepared and funded living trust will avoid court proceedings at incapacity and death. A will provides no such protection and can, in fact, ensure court intervention at both events, which can be very costly (in time, privacy and dollars) to your family.

Instructions at Death and Incapacity Both a will and a living trust contain instructions for distributing your assets after you die. But a living trust also contains your instructions for managing your assets and your care should you become incapacitated. A Living Trust Avoids the Costs of Court Interference at Incapacity and Death A properly prepared and funded living trust (one that holds all of your assets) will avoid the need for a court guardianship and/or conservatorship if you become incapacitated. The person(s) you select will be able to manage your care and your assets privately, with no court interference. A will can only go into effect at your death, so it can provide no instructions regarding incapacity. In that case, your family would almost certainly have to ask the court to establish a guardianship and/or conservatorship for your care and your assets--a process that is public, time consuming, expensive and difficult to end. What You Need to Know. The same living trust document that can keep you out of a court guardianship at incapacity can also keep your family out of probate court when you die. But a will must go through probate. Depending on where you live, this can be costly and time consuming. Costs to Transfer Assets...Pay Now or Later There may be some minor costs to transfer assets into your living trust when you set it up, and then from your trust to your beneficiaries after you die. But these will be minimal if you and your successor trustee do much of the work yourselves. With a will, the probate court (with its costs and attorney fees) is the only way to transfer your assets to your heirs after you die. So you can pay now to set up your trust and transfer titles, or you can pay the courts and attorneys to do this for you after you die. Actions to Consider

  • Find out what probate costs are where you live. If your state has a fee schedule based on the value of probate assets, this will be fairly easy. If it has 'reasonable' fees, ask an attorney to estimate what these fees would be if you die tomorrow and, if you are married, if your spouse dies the next day.

  • Similarly, ask your attorney to estimate what the costs would be if you become incapacitated tomorrow and, if you are married, if your spouse becomes incapacitated the next day. (Practically speaking, this will be impossible to estimate because no one will be able to predict how long the incapacity will last or what complications might arise. The mere uncertainty of these costs should give you pause--and propel you to plan for incapacity.)

  • Add these estimates to the cost of having a will prepared--and compare that to the cost of a living trust. When you make a true comparison, you may conclude that having a living trust actually costs less than a will.

About the Company:

Heritage Law Group, PLLC is a boutique Estate Planning and Elder Law firm assisting residents in Tennessee and Kentucky. We are dedicated to providing client-centered, professional legal services that are individualized through one-on-one consultations. We delight in empowering our clients and community through education and providing specialized resources. Our integrity-driven team will help you protect your legacy while delivering outstanding quality at a reasonable cost.

Owner, Jake Mason, J.D., LL.M. (Elder Law & Estate Planning), EPLS, is board-certified in Estate Planning and Probate, accredited by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and licensed in Kentucky and Tennessee. Contact us to schedule a consultation at (615) 989-7054 or info@planyourlegacy.com.

Your Legacy Is Our Priority™

Mason & Associates

(Formerly known as Heritage Law Group, PLLC)

1526 Hunt Club Boulevard, Suite 550

Gallatin, Tennessee 37066

Phone: (615) 989-7054

Fax: (615) 751-5208

info@planyourlegacy.com

Monday-Friday, 8:00AM-4:30PM

Visiting this site does not create an attorney-client relationship with Mason & Associates. Tennessee law requires notification that this is an advertisement and this website is not intended to provide legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, you must seek it by speaking directly to a licensed attorney. While our firm welcomes feedback, we cannot accept a new legal matter without making sure there is no conflict of interest with other client matters in which we are already involved and there is no other conflict of interest that might prevent us from representing you. Unless otherwise noted, all Mason & Associates attorneys are generally licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee. Attorney Jacob Mason is also licensed to practice law in the State of Kentucky. Every situation is unique and you should not act on information contained in this website without seeking advice from a legal professional specific to your particular situation. 

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