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Tips for deciding whether to use a will or a trust

When people in Georgia prepare an estate plan, they might use a trust or a will as the main vehicle. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. A trust costs more to prepare, but it does not have to go through probate. The probate process that a will must go through is not private, and it can be costly and time-consuming.

The public nature of the probate process means that a will may be subject to more scrutiny. It might be more likely to face a challenge than a trust, and there are more laws about challenging a will than a trust. Wills generally cover all assets belonging to a person while assets may need to be retitled in order to be placed in a trust. People should avoid the common error of creating a trust and then not funding it.

If a person becomes incapacitated, a trust may make it easier for someone to step in. A person who has only a will needs to create a power of attorney to appoint another individual to handle finances in case of incapacity. This power of attorney must be accepted by financial institutions. However, a successor trustee may also have hurdles to overcome in taking over a trust. Finally, both wills and trusts need to be reviewed and updated regularly.

Trusts may offer other advantages. People who are concerned about how an irresponsible heir will spend money may want to use a trust since it allows them to specify when and how distributions should be made. These distributions could be tied to specific milestones or left up to the trustee. Whether a person is preparing a will or a trust, an attorney may be able to help. While wills may appear less complicated, using the wrong or ambiguous language might make them more vulnerable to challenges.

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