The Benefits of a Last Will and Testament

Although the revocable living trust is a powerful estate planning tool, it may not be right for everyone. For older adults who could potentially require long-term care in the near to medium term, establishing a revocable living trust might make them ineligible to receive assistance from Medicaid for nursing home or assisted-living facility costs. Others are simply more comfortable with a will-based estate plan. Whatever the reason, the last will and testament does have some benefits.

The first benefit of a will is the ability to name an executor for your estate. A will still has to go through probate. However, you can designate a particular family member, loved one or other trusted individual who will be responsible for managing your estate during the probate case and ensuring that your wishes are carried out.

In addition to naming an executor for your estate, you can use your will to appoint a guardian for minor children. In most instances, the court will follow your wishes with respect to the guardian you name. This avoids the need for lengthy court proceedings to determine a guardian for the minor children, which could result in the appointment of a guardian you would not have wanted.

Third, a will can be beneficial because of its simplicity. Unlike revocable living trusts, which can be over 100 pages long, wills are typically closer to 10 pages. This means less confusing provisions and a clearer understanding of your estate plan.

Finally, will-based estate plans are less expensive than an estate plan centered around a revocable living trust. As discussed above, wills are shorter and simpler than revocable living trusts. Consequently, attorneys can draft wills in less time. Moreover, in contrast to a revocable living trust, it is not necessary with a will to change the title to your home, cars and financial accounts, something that also reduces the cost to the client.

Those are some of the benefits of a last will and testament. That said, wills do not avoid probate and are easier to challenge in court than revocable living trusts, provide less flexibility in deciding when and how your heirs get their inheritance, make your property and assets public record and could cause estate tax problems for higher net worth families. Accordingly, it is important to discuss your personal and financial circumstances with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to decide what estate planning options are best for you.

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