There is an old commercial for an oil filter which says you can pay the mechanic now to change the filter, or you can pay him a whole lot more later. The implication, of course, is that paying for something now may be less expensive in the long run. This axiom may also apply to your estate planning.
A Will is a basic and more traditional estate plan, and is adequate for many, but not all, people. This type of estate plan may necessitate the filing of a judicial action to transfer property (especially real estate) upon a death. That judicial action is called a probate. The disadvantage of a probate is the attorney’s fees and court costs involved and the time necessary to transfer the property
In many cases, the least expensive estate plan, in the long run, is a Living Trust. The advantage of a Living Trust includes, among other things, the ease of transferring property upon a death without the need of a judicial action(which is called a probate), and with a minimal amount of attorney’s fees and costs. Larger estates can minimize or eliminate estate taxes. A living trust will also provide for contingencies in the event that you become incapacitated. This has a higher initial cost than for preparation of a Will, but it will save money in the long run because you will likely avoid spending money on attorney’s fees to probate a Will.
There are other estate planning tools that are utilized by lawyers, which would include but not be limited to such things as Beneficiary Deeds, Joint Tenancy Deeds, Pay on Death Accounts, Financial Power of Attorney and other instruments. These can be very efficient ways to transfer property without involving the court at all. If you have questions in regards to your estate planning, contact a competent attorney to assist you.