A Will is a legal document that describes how your assets should be distributed in the event of death. The actual distribution, however, is controlled by a legal process called probate, which is Latin for “prove” the Will. Upon your death, the Will becomes a public document available for inspection by all comers. And, once your Will enters the probate process, it’s no longer controlled by your family, but by the court and probate attorneys. Probate can be cumbersome, time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally traumatic during a family’s time of grief and vulnerability. Con artists and others with less-than-pure financial motives have been known to use their knowledge about the contents of a will to prey on survivors. A Living Trust avoids probate because your property is owned by the trust, so technically there’s nothing for the probate courts to administer. Whomever you name as your “successor trustee” gains control of your assets and distributes them exactly according to your instructions. There is one other crucial difference: A Will doesn’t take effect until your death, and is therefore no help to you during lifetime planning, an increasingly important consideration since Americans are now living longer. A Family Wealth Trust can help you preserve and increase your estate while you’re alive, and offers protection should you become mentally disabled.
About Pamela Potter
Owner and founder of the Ashland, Kentucky based Potter Law Firm, Ms. Potter concentrates her practice in the area of estate planning, estate administration, and elder law. Mrs. Potter’s goal is to help her clients plan secure financial futures for themselves and their families. To achieve that goal, her firm offers a wide range of estate planning services, including wills, trusts, and powers of attorney in addition to probate, estate administration, elder law, and Medicaid Planning services.