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Why a Living Trust?
[2010-02-11]

Mr. Kimmer W. Callahan

(As Published in the Coeur d’Alene Press)People often make the explanation of why you should complete a Living Trust both complex and confusing. There are numerous advantages to a Living Trust, but one major reason stands tall above the rest: AVOID PROBATE!

Probate is a bureaucratic procedure that your family will endure in most cases at your death if you choose a will, or if you die with no estate plan. Without a will, the “state” decides who gets your assets (and this may not correspond to your wishes or expectations). You must also conduct a separate probate in every state that you own real property. On average, probate takes about one year. However, its duration is far greater than need be. While probate is dragging on, it serves as a reminder of your death to your family and makes it all the more difficult for your loved ones to have closure to a painful event in their lives.

Settlement of a living trust usually takes a month or two. This is due to waiting for final bills and expenses. If more time is taken, it is usually because of everyone’s wishes, or waiting for property to sell – not a result of a government dictate. Settling the Living Trust can occur just about as quickly as desired – and the amount of time is inconsequential when compared to probate.

In probate, the entire affair – the size of the estate, the type of assets, the beneficiaries, what they receive, and everything else – is public record for anyone to see. Fact is, there are people who make it their business to peruse these records hoping to use this information for an opportunity. In stark contrast, a trust is completely private.

Sometimes people become incapacitated. Absent planning, your loved ones would be forced to apply for a formal conservatorship in order to manage your affairs and assets. A formal conservatorship is very expensive, bureaucratic, and time consuming. Another significant benefit of a Living Trust is that it eliminates the need for a conservatorship, in most cases. The trust specifies and allows your pre-designated successor trustee to step in and manage your assets when you are incapacitated.

A common misconception about living trusts is that trusts are only for the rich. The determination of whether a trust is right for you is not a factor of “how much you have,” but of “what your family will face” when you pass away. If your goal is to make the settlement of your estate as simple and fast as possible for your family, a Living Trust may be right for you. Your net worth is not a determining factor of “If you need a trust.”, but is very relevant in what provisions your trust should contain.

Many delay implementing an estate plan after they have decided they should have one. This occurs for many reasons –procrastination, the mistaken belief that it is very involved, they can’t quite make up their minds on a few points, searching for the perfect price or timing, and the list goes on. On the surface, many of these reasons appear understandable and reasonable, but when you take a closer look, the major flaw in such logic is the absolutely terrible position you are allowing yourself to stay in. At any and all times which you walk around without your own implemented estate plan – by default you have actually been choosing the estate plan that the state has written for you. It is better to have a plan you are mostly happy with than a plan you had no part in creating. You can always change your plan down the road.

Call now for your free, no-obligation consultation – 208.449-1147.
Callahan & Associates, Chtd. By Kimmer W. Callahan Attorney at Law