Law Office of Rick Todd Blog

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wills vs. Trusts

Generally, there are two ways to administer a person’s estate when they die: wills vs. trusts. Most attorneys draft wills for their clients, but a growing minority of attorneys draft revocable living trusts. Revocable living trusts are “sold” to clients as a way to avoid probate. Probate is, as you may know, the actual administering of someone’s estate. It’s how beneficiaries (or creditors) get their money! A revocable living trust avoids this process, saving time and money.

In the case of wills vs. trusts, I believe wills are vastly superior to revocable living trusts and will explain why below:

  1. Wills are cheaper. A will is a shorter document and it is the practice of attorneys to charge less for them because they are less complex and take less time to prepare.

  2. Wills work well. Revocable living trusts require a person to “re-title” their assets so that the revocable living trust owns them. If a person forgets to do this, the asset passes through probate. The selling point of revocable living trusts is that they allow you to avoid probate, but if done improperly, or if the client does not re-title deeds, then the asset must pass through probate. Attorneys know this which is why they package what is know as a “pour-over” will with the trust. No matter what you do, you will end having a will and probably having your estate go through probate anyway. Revocable living trusts often don’t work as advertised.

  3. Probate in Howard County, Maryland is an affordable and quick process. It also offers creditor protection by not allowing creditors to make claims once the probate process has ended if the creditors have been contacted and did not make a claim against the estate in time. Revocable living trusts offer no such protection. The Register of Wills, which is located in the circuit court of the county seat, is usually great to work with and is used to the most common questions people ask. Fees are not high either and depend on the size of the estate. In Howard County, the Register of Wills has well trained staff that can assist you through the probate process, if you have been selected as personal representative. An attorney can help as well.

The next time you hear a friend recommending you get a “trust” to avoid probate, make sure you talk to an attorney (like me) and determine whether a trust is something you really need or whether it’s something that an attorney would prefer you to have for his own benefit. 

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