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Choosing a will or a trust

Ask the LDA

The holidays are upon us once again. At my house, we gather with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Perhaps your family is one of many that did not find the holidays very joyful last year. After all, we were in the middle of a pandemic. This year, hopefully, will be different.

Every year, around this time, I get lots of calls from family members concerned about estate planning. Talk around the dinner table will often center around wills and trusts. Specifically, they are talking to aging parents and want to make sure everything is in order. Mom and dad sure know what they want, they are just unsure of how to get it done and how much it will cost. Being able to know what you want and get it done properly is essential.

What is better, a will or a trust?

A trust will streamline the process of transferring an estate after you die while avoiding a lengthy and potentially costly period of probate (in California if you have assets like a house, and it is worth more than $166,000, there will be a probate in most circumstances). Deciding between a will or a trust is a personal choice, and some experts recommend having both. A will is typically less expensive and easier to set up than a trust.

Do you need both a trust and a will?

Nearly everyone should have a will, but not everyone needs a living or irrevocable trust. If you have property and assets to place in a trust and have minor children, having both estate-planning vehicles might make sense.

How much does it cost to set up a trust?

The cost to set up a trust depends on various factors, including the type of trust. I charge a flat fee to set up a family trust. An estate planning attorney will provide legal advice and specific direction and in turn will be more expensive. I am not an attorney and can only prepare documents at your specific direction. I use simple forms to help you tell me what you want.

It is important to settle your affairs earlier rather than later in life. A will, trust or both, can ensure your assets and possessions end up where you want them to go. If you have minor children, you should absolutely make a will to name guardianship. A trust will streamline your estate's transfer, unlike a will, which goes through probate. Making an estate plan a priority now can save money and precious time later, and help your loved ones avoid potential financial hardship.

Diana Wade is a Legal Document Assistant. She can be reached at (661) 821-0494 or [email protected]. Diana is not an attorney; she can only provide self-help services at your specific direction. Kern County LDA #185, ex 4/11/23.