Both a Will and a Trust are useful estate planning documents, but understanding their differences will help you decide which is right for your particular estate planning objectives and personal circumstances.
Is a Will or Trust Best For You?
Also known as a Last Will and Testament, a Will is used to direct how your assets are distributed at the time of your death. A Will allows you to:
- express how you want your assets to be divided and who will inherit them after death;
- name a personal representative to oversee the probate of your estate; and
- choose a guardian to take care of your minor children.
A Revocable Living Trust
One of the most common misperceptions regarding Revocable Living Trusts is that they are only for the super wealthy who have large taxable estates. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
There are many important benefits of Revocable Living Trusts beyond federal and Massachusetts estate tax considerations. A Revocable Living Trusts allows you to:
- have full control over and the benefit of your property without probate court intervention during periods of incapacity;
- to control the distributions of your assets and give what you have, to whom you want, in the way you want, privately and without needless delay or probate court intervention; and
- to plan to minimize or eliminate estate taxes and to safeguard your property from your loved ones’ financial immaturity, their creditors and even their potential future divorces.
Wills vs. Trusts – A Comparison Chart
- Planning for Incapacity
- Probate (at Death)
- Court Costs & Legal Fees
- Asset Protection
- Estate Tax Planning
- Controlled Distribution of Assets
- Planning for Minor Children
- Flexibility & Control
With a Simple Will
Probate Court has control. A Will is a death document and has no applicability when an individual is incapacitated. An individual must petition the Probate Court for authority to handle your financial affairs.
A Will guarantees Probate. The Probate Court has total control and oversees the administration of your estate. A significant amount of documentation must be prepared and filed with the Probate Court.
Significant Probate Court costs and legal fees (approx. 3-5% of an estate’s value).
No privacy as Probate Court proceedings are public record. Family can be exposed to disgruntled heirs, unscrupulous solicitors, etc.
The Probate process can be lengthy and time-consuming (approximately 12-18 months).
Offers no asset protection. Wills only allow for outright distributions. Assets are exposed to your heirs’ creditors, predators, lawsuit and even ex-spouses in the event of a future divorce.
Limited opportunities to eliminate or minimize Federal and Massachusetts Estate Taxes.
Wills provide for outright distributions only.
Probate Court controls child inheritance. A guardian must be appointed. All decisions and financial transactions require court approval. All assets are distributed outright to the child at age 18.
Very limited control as a Will doesn’t take effect until you die. You can write new wills to cover new circumstances, but wills are easily contested.
With a Revocable Living Trust
You maintain control. Seamless transition upon incapacity. Your successor trustee manages your financial affairs according to your specific instructions without Probate Court intervention.
You have total control without Probate Court intervention. A properly drafted and funded Revocable Trust allows you to completely avoid probate.
Typically no court costs or legal fees. Legal fees only as attorney is needed to assist with the administration of the Trust.
Total privacy. Trusts are not public record. Your Trustee and family can take care of your financial affairs privately.
Typically only a few weeks are involved. Larger estates may take longer for estate tax filing, division of assets into new trusts, etc.
Assets can be held in the Trust past death, protecting your assets from your heirs’ creditors, predators, lawsuits and ex-spouses in the event of a future divorce.
A properly drafted Revocable Living Trust includes provisions to minimize or eliminate Federal and Massachusetts Estate Taxes.
Revocable Living Trusts allow you to control the distribution of assets “to whom you want, the way you want and when you want.”
You maintain control. Court approves guardian, but has no control over your child’s inheritance. The trustee you select manages the child’s inheritance, provides funds for medical care, education, maintenance, or any special item you may decide, but does not distribute assets until the ages or circumstances that you have specified in your Trust.
You maintain control of your assets and health, unless you become disabled. At that time, the people you hand-picked will handle your assets and health per your instructions in your Trust. If you aren’t disabled, you can change your Trust or discontinue it at any time. Trusts are difficult to contest.
With More Than 25 Years of Experience… We Do Things Differently
Unlike the “transactional” or “one-size-fits-all” approach to estate planning, the Socius Law Firm is committed to forging lawyer-for-life relationships with our clients.
What We Do
At the Socius Law Firm, estate planning is not done for you, it is done with you. We help individuals and families identify their concerns and planning objectives and work together to create a plan that is tailored to meet their unique family situation, assets and personal values, goals and objectives.
Satisfied Client Stories
As a professional and business owner I expect excellent performance and results from other professionals. I can say without hesitation that Todd Rosenfield and the Socius Law Firm have met and exceeded those expectations. Todd’s experience as a Estate Planning and Business Attorney make him exceptionally qualified to address a wide variety of issues. As a husband and father, as well as a business owner, I have peace of mind and sleep well at night knowing that Todd has me covered. I have utilized Todd’s services for over 10 years in a variety of legal and trust matters.
“I have depended on Todd Rosenfield to provide exceptional advice and counsel for both my personal estate planning and business needs for over 15 years. He has always taken care of every detail to ensure my issues are resolved promptly and thoroughly. I can recommend Todd without hesitation as an expert attorney.”
“I brought my parents to Socius for an estate planning consultation. They were a bit nervous and unsure if they needed a revocable living trust. Attorney Rosenfield took the time to explain the options and was very patient. We hired him on the spot.”
“We liked Attorney Rosenfield for his professionalism, knowledge and willingness to share it, and his good nature. Todd’s approach to navigating the estate planning design process helped us understand legal concepts that otherwise might have been confusing or made us feel uncertain. We were unconditionally satisfied every step of the way, including the pace of events leading to our completed Estate Plan.”
We had Mr. Rosenfield help us with the adoption of my daughter by my husband. Mr. Rosenfield is both professional and very easy going and made adoption day go very smoothly for us. Knowing that I work in Boston and live 40 miles away, he was mindful of my work and commuting schedule and was very accommodating to that. Adoption day was stress free and he took care of everything and made it a very joyous event. He even emailed us pictures of our special day! Highly recommend Mr. Rosenfield and will be looking to him for additional services in the future with family estate planning.
“Todd was my primary council for three years when I was CEO of a Medical Device precision component manufacturer in Massachusetts. Todd was very competent and reliable as a lawyer and quickly established himself as a trusted advisor to senior management on a wide variety of issues and opportunities. I would work with Todd again without hesitation and highly recommend him.”
After having our first baby, my wife and I decided that we needed an estate plan to ensure our daughter was taken care of in case something happened to both of us. We were recommended to Todd and the Socius Law Firm by a coworker. I can’t give enough praise to Todd for how easy and painless he made this process.
“Todd is one of the most knowledgeable attorneys and is unbelievably adept at handling a wide range of legal issues that are applicable to small to medium-sized businesses. At the same time, he is one of the most caring and trustworthy individuals I’ve worked with, always seeking to understand his clients’ goals and recommending the best actions to achieve those goals.”
Recently we decided it was time to update our estate plan. We spent a good amount of time researching the right attorney given our circumstances and selected Todd from a list of recommended estate planning attorneys. The results were outstanding. He was very detailed in his analysis of our needs, goals and objectives. As he prepared our documents, he communicated his thoughts and made recommendations that made a lot of sense. We could not be more pleased with the results.
When my father passed away, it was a very upsetting and confusing time. Thankfully, he had the foresight to consult with Todd Rosenfield and introduced us to his law firm. The process of settling the estate and trust went smoothly and Todd took care of every detail. We are very thankful.
I met with Todd to get my estate planning done for my family. Todd took the time to explain everything to me and helped me understand what was right for our needs. We decided to go with him and his firm cause of how professional, thoughtful and caring he was! It was a very smooth process. We were leaving our young children and wanted to make sure our estate plan was in place before traveling out of the country. We were comforted knowing it was all in place and settled for our kids. I highly recommend Todd and encourage you all to get your estate planning done!
We had been putting it off estate planning for years. After the birth of our son, my husband and I decided it was time to get our house in order. We hired Todd and could not be more pleased with the results. Todd was terrific to work with… smart, professional and insightful. The process was painless, and he guided us along each step of the way. I really appreciated him taking the time to explain everything to us and answer all of our questions. I highly recommend Todd to anyone looking to create or update their estate plan. Thank you Todd!
I am so very grateful that I was referred to the Socius Law Firm. Where to start? Todd made the whole process painless. He was very patient and professional. Todd took the time needed to explain any pertinent legal concepts which allowed us to make informed decisions regarding all of the issues for our specific estate planning needs. The presentation of the final product was the icing on the cake. Our estate planning documents came in a very organized portfolio as well as digital copies on a thumb drive. Thank you so much!
How Much Does It Cost?
We offer four levels of comprehensive estate planning – each highly customized to meet your unique family situation. Plan fees are dependent upon your personal values, goals and objectives.
- For the family who wants to take care of basic estate planning needs and is not concerned about avoiding probate or maintaining privacy. You’ll gain peace of mind knowing we are here to help you navigate the system during your lifetime and help your family after your passing.
- For the family who wants to avoid probate and gain total assurance and peace of mind knowing that in the event of their death or incapacity, all assets will be transferred to heirs with the most ease and convenience possible in the privacy of our office.
- For the family who wants the total assurance and peace of mind of the "Trust Plan" as well as the added comfort of knowing that all assets transfers are taken care of by our office. We do all “funding” for you.
- For the family who needs more than the foundational planning of the first three levels. Clients choosing the Legacy Plan may have advanced planning needs involving complicated estate tax or asset protection issues.
Call Us Today
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