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will versus living trust

How Trusts Can Help Avoid Probate

When you plan to leave your estate to loved ones, a little strategic planning can ensure that most, if not all of your assets, can bypass probate in Ohio. Probate and its associated fees can account for some of your estate costs. In addition, no one wants to deal with wrangling an estate when they’re grieving. Putting your major assets in a trust will ensure that ownership seamlessly passes to your beneficiaries upon your death.

Trusts Versus Wills

Both trusts and wills are legal instruments that allow you to dispose of your property however you see fit. If you die with a valid will but no trusts, your assets will be distributed according to your wishes, but they’ll need to go through probate, unless they pass as a result of a “beneficiary designation,” a document that provides for the disposition of a specific asset upon death.

Living trusts, on the other hand, allow you to retain control over your assets until your death. For example, you can create a revocable living trust for your home. You (the “grantor”) would name yourself as the trustee, so that you can continue to control the property and live in your home until your death. After death, ownership automatically passes to the people named as beneficiaries.

Trusts do not negate the need for a will, however. If you die without one, any assets outside of the trust will be distributed to your next of kin, according to state laws.

Can I Get Rid of an Asset in a Trust?

What if you put your home in a trust and want to sell it later? As both grantor and trustee, you are allowed to do so. In most cases, you would simply need to sign all paperwork with your name, followed by specific language describing the trust and trustee. Since you gave yourself the power to control the asset, you are allowed to do with it what you wish.

Should you buy another home, you would need to complete additional paperwork to put the new home in the trust.

Do I Need an Attorney to Create a Trust?

Like wills, it is possible to create a living trust on your own, but most people benefit from the niche knowledge an estate planning attorney provides. Your estate lawyer can evaluate your goals and the entirety of your assets to recommend the best course of action. Some clients want to use the trust to distribute assets to loved ones, some want to avoid probate, some want to cut down on their tax liability, while others need to plan for Medicare eligibility. Working with an attorney ensures that your wishes will be carried out—that is, all of your estate planning documents are legally enforceable.

Contact an Ohio Estate Planning Attorney

When you need comprehensive estate planning services, the attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein can help. Call us today for a consultation.

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