Should I Get a Trust? Comparing Trusts v. Wills in Virginia

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JGB March 2024 Newsletter

Thinking about the future can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to planning for what happens after we're gone. There's a natural tendency to put off estate planning, but it's crucial to address it sooner rather than later. In Virginia, you have two main options for estate planning: a trust or a will. While both serve a purpose, trusts often offer greater benefits and flexibility.

Wills: The Traditional Approach

A will is a straightforward document that outlines who gets your assets after you pass away. It's very formal but generally less expensive to prepare. However, wills have a significant downside: they must go through probate. This court-supervised process can be slow, costly, and entirely public.

Trusts: The Modern Approach

A trust is like a secure container for your assets. Once you transfer your assets into the trust (a process called funding), you appoint a trustee to manage them. The best part? When you pass away, your assets go directly to your chosen beneficiaries, bypassing the probate process. Here are some key advantages of trusts:

Quick and Easy: Trusts, when properly funded, avoid probate, allowing your loved ones to access your assets faster and without additional expenses. Setting up a trust is easy and straightforward.

Private: Trust administration is private, with only the trustee needing to know the full contents of your trust.

Control: Trusts offer unparalleled control over your assets after you pass. Whether you want to keep a family farm intact, protect your children from financial missteps, or ensure a loved one has a place to live, a trust can help you achieve your inheritance planning goals.

Protection: Trusts can provide added protection for your heirs, such as safeguarding their inheritance in case of divorce or preserving access to Medicaid for heirs with special needs. Trust can serve as one of many asset protection strategies.

Portability: Trusts are portable, meaning they remain valid even if you move to another state.

Why Trusts are Great in Virginia

Virginia's laws support efficient trust management and offer robust protections for your assets. This means you can plan your future with confidence, knowing that your trust will achieve exactly what you intend.

Making the Right Choice

While trusts offer numerous benefits, they might not be the best fit for everyone. It's essential to consider your unique situation and future goals. Speaking with your estate planning attorney at JGB can help you determine if trust planning is right for you.

In summary, trusts are a powerful tool for planning your future. They offer clear advantages over wills, such as speed, privacy, control, protection, and portability. If you're looking to simplify things for your loved ones and keep your personal affairs private, a trust might be just what you need. Consider discussing your options with your estate planning attorney at JGB and take a step towards securing your legacy.

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