A Will or Trust is an essential estate planning document for directing how you want your assets distributed. It also provides your family with guidance during a difficult time in their own lives. Most people think about a Will when considering an estate plan. A Will outlines your instructions regarding your most important assets as well as the appointment of someone who will be responsible for carrying out your instructions. A will also helps to avoid family disputes and other issues that may arise if you die and do not have a Will. Without a Will, the State of Michigan directs how your assets are distributed and who is appointed to carry out the distribution of your assets.
A Trust is a document that further outlines what happens to your property after your death as well as directing how you are to be cared for if you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions. While not always necessary, there are advantages of having a Trust. A Trust provides a means of distributing assets over time for both minor and adult children according to what you think is appropriate. It can also ensure that specific assets stay within your family in the event of future marriages or divorces. In addition, a trust is a private document and does not become part of the public record. A Will must be administered through the Probate Court, usually with an attorney, and becomes part of the public record. Probate Court administration also involves attorney fees and administrative costs. Generally, a Trust is more flexible than a Will and avoids the expense and uncertainty of having to administer a Will through the Probate Court.
It is important that you have full understanding of the benefits of both a Will and a Trust so you can determine what works best for you and your family. Every person is different. There is no single form for a Will or Trust that works for everyone although everyone should have a Will or Trust as part of an estate plan. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney will give you peace of mind about what will fit the needs of both you and your family.