If you are single and are creating an estate plan, a trust may be a better option for you than a will. Why?
Reason #1: Incapacity—Protecting Your Children & Pets
If you become mentally or physically incapacitated, who do you want to manage your assets until you are able to do so yourself? Provisions in a will do not take effect unless you die. A trust, on the other hand, can take effect at any time. It can designate when and under what conditions a trustee can step in to arrange for your care, access your assets to provide that care, and manage your finances through your incapacity. The provisions can save you and your family thousands of dollars as well as avoid court proceedings and a court-appointed guardian.
For single parents, a trust with the right provisions is essential for directing and providing for your children’s care when you cannot care for them yourself. If you die, your trust can continue to provide resources and direction, unlike a power of attorney, which ends upon death. It also offers a smoother transition into estate administration.
And don’t forget about protecting your fur-babies! A trust is an enforceable document that prevents their designated care-giver from using its funds for a pedicure instead of Rover or Fluffy’s vet visit.
Reason #2: Giving to Treasured People or Charities
A trust, which is a legal entity of its own, survives your death. Technically, during your life-to-death transition, the assets in your trust never change ownership until your trustee transfers the assets to the beneficiaries you designate—people close to you or organizations that you care about.
Reason #3: Avoiding Probate of Real Estate
Generally, property transferred by a will is probated; property held by a trust is not. For property owned in other states, your estate may avoid additional (ancillary/out-of-state) probate proceedings if you have deeded those properties into your trust.
Reason #4: Privacy
Although this concern is not exclusive to singles, it is a concern nonetheless. Wills filed with the probate court are public records. Trusts, on the other hand, are private contracts open only to your trustees and certain beneficiaries. Retaining privacy helps prevent opportunists and scammers from learning about windfalls from your estate and, subsequently, trying to prey on your beneficiaries.
Is a Trust Right for You?
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