Rest assured be it through a will or a living trust, your assets will end up distributed to your loved ones according to your wishes. Your choice of estate planning vehicle does not influence the distribution of your life’s work; however, it does determine the route taken to reach your desired end. Naturally, different paths have different advantages and disadvantages and so what matters most is that you arrive at the table with an open mind. Individuals need not worry about which documents will best serve their needs—that’s you and your lawyer to discover together—; they need only chat with family and loved ones to work out their desired outcomes. Having said this, knowing the lay of the land can be a helpful tool for imagining future roles and distributions.

A Living Trust vs. A Will 

The two principal vehicles used to organize the distribution of one’s assets upon their passing are a will and a living trust. The former takes you down the road to probate; the latter provides your family an uncluttered path to the management and distribution of your assets that is often cheaper and better able to provide peace of mind. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? It often is and yet it is important to remember that wills do work and, for some families, are the best way to go—especially in Georgia.

In comparison to many other states, probate in Georgia is less onerous. After fees associated with filing and publishing the deceased’s will, you can expect the process to put you out $300 to $500. That’s a lot less than fees associated with implementing a living trust. The catch (of course there’s a catch) is that this does not account for attorney fees. While you can trust a lawyer to tell you that you need a lawyer, the honest truth is that most people do.

At the Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia, we often see clients pay between $1,500 and $2,500 to probate a will. Double this and you get the true cost of going this route for most couples. A will will suffice, and will likely be cheaper to execute than a trust, but unless a family member is an experienced estate planning attorney, the probate process can create a lot of headache on top of heartache for your loved ones. And to be honest, the last thing a grieving family member wants to do is work during this time. You are probably better off investing those lawyer fees in avoiding probate. Your family will thank you later.

In the long term, a living trusts cost less than wills plus probate. What’s more, a living trust affords you the peace of mind of administering your estate now so that you can be certain your wishes are met. Lastly, a living trust saves your loved ones a trying task in a moment of grief and crisis—something a will can’t offer no matter who confronts the probate process.

Estate Planning Should Be Educational

If you’ve read this far, it is no secret that we think living trusts offer all sorts of compelling advantages. Nonetheless, wills will work. In deciding which of these options is best, we at the Estate Planning Group of Georgia think education is key. When we sit down to chat, we don’t do so with an agenda or preconceived notion of what will work best. After all, that can only come from assessing your individual circumstances. Instead, we sit down with the goal of providing a complete picture of your options and their relative pros and cons. Upon the basis of informed understanding, we then get to work on building you the best possible estate plan for your unique needs.

You can watch the video blog on this topic below!

Contact Attorney James M. Miskell

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