My wife and I hired Robert to do our wills and living trusts as we were awaiting the birth of our first child. Throughout the entire process, Robert worked with us to ensure that we clearly understood the various decisions to be made. Estate planning can be difficult, requiring that you consider events and scenarios that most of us naturally do not want to consider. Robert's professionalism and ...

A Legacy of Trust

For the Bright Side News
My godfather uncle and my godmother aunt passed away within the past few months. They both lived relatively long lives and the deaths were not unexpected. One godparent had a lot of assets and property in the estate and the other did not. Both had wills but one of those wills could not be found. Accordingly, the estate with a lot of assets was probated with the will as a testate estate. In the estate with only a few assets, the will was not found and that estate was intestate. In fact there were so few assets that it didn't make any sense to probate the estate and go through all the trouble of the probate process. In the estate with a lot of assets, the will was probated and that probate process has continued for months and months.

Another uncle, as the petitioning executor of the estate with lots of assets, has had to do a lot of work including contacting a total of 17 different individuals and get their signatures of approval before he submitted the papers to the probate court. He also has had to get the probate court's approval on a listing of assets, inventory, and a detailed accounting of the estate's financials. There have been a lot of visits to the probate court and hours upon hours detailing the estate assets to correctly divide the assets among 17 people.

I feel for this uncle, the executor. I know how much work is involved when probating the estate with lots of assets and lots of beneficiaries. He showed me the work. I was impressed with his diligence. But I don't think my late godparent fully understood the amount of work that my uncle, the executor, would have to do to handle that estate. Even though my godparent had a will, this was one of those situations where a trust would have been much better and easier for everyone.

If there was a trust, then my uncle would have been the trustee. He would have been relieved of visiting the court, filing a listing of assets and estate inventory, and he could have started distributing estate assets right away. Moreover, the estate handling with a trust would have been private, quicker, less expensive, and would have saved my uncle a lot of time and effort. My godparent did not know how much harder my uncle was going to work because of the will and the lack of a trust - but if it was known how much work was going to result from the will-based estate plan, I know my pragmatic godparent would have chosen to get a trust.

Even though trusts can do many great things for a family, the making of estate handling easier for the surviving family is the biggest reason my clients get a trust. They invest in their legacy. The benefits gained by the family both now and hereafter, by far outweigh the costs of making a trust-based estate plan now.

Categories: estate plan, trust