Wills and Trusts

One of the most baffling issues in Estate Planning is whether to use a Will or a Revocable Living Trust to accomplish your goals.  

The main distinction between a Will and a Revocable Living Trust is the use or avoidance of the probate system.

"Probate" is the process of administering the estate of a deceased person.  During probate, the instructions contained in the will (if there is one) are followed as to distribution of property, and claims against the deceased person's estate are resolved by the court.  

Many states, such as California, have complex probate rules and mandatory fees which can make the probate process very long, confusing, and expensive.  

For most people in Washington, however, this process is quick, straightforward, and not particularly expensive.  

As a rule, Steven Wee Law Office does not recommend the use of a Revocable Living Trust.  There are several reasons for this:

  1. Expense.  The creation and ongoing maintenance of a Revocable Living Trust is much more expensive than the creation of a simple will.  The cost in attorney's fees is higher. The cost to transfer all assets into the trust is an additional expense. Finally, every Revocable Living Trust must have an associated "Pour-Over Will" to direct any assets that were not transfered to the trust (so you ultimately wind up with a will either way).
  2. Maintenance.  It is difficult for people to remember to transfer all of their assets over the course of their lifetime into the Revocable Living Trust.  Should you forget to do that, even once, you could end up having to go through the probate process anyway, thereby negating the value of the entire exercise.
  3. Complexity.  Trusts are often very long and complex, making it difficult for people to understand their own estate planning documents.  This makes it difficult to feel comfortable that you have made the plans you intended, and it makes it difficult for those who must work with the document after your death to ensure they are following your wishes.
  4. Liability to Creditors.  Avoiding probate doesn't take advantage of the short probate creditor claim statute of limitations.  In trust situations, claims for payment can be made years after the date of death.  In probate, creditors have mere months to make their claims, after which any claims are barred by the court.

There are some situations which favor the use of a Revocable Living Trust, such as when there is complex ongoing business involved or a high need for privacy.  Steven Wee Law Office can help you determine which instrument is best for your situation, and craft the document to achieve your estate planning goals.

Steven Wee Law Office, P.S. is conveniently located in Spokane Valley, WA, near the I-90/Argonne intersection. We have had the privilege to serve clients from our own neighborhood as well as from distant communities throughout Eastern Washington and beyond.

**Disclaimer: The free information and help contained in these web pages is not intended to be legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should always consult with an attorney before taking any legal action.

© 2018 Steven Wee Law Office, P.S.
708 N. Argonne Rd., Ste. 1-B, Spokane Valley, WA 99212
| Phone: (509) 315-8087

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