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Comparing the benefits of wills and trusts

Illinois residents who want to make certain they are fully organized and that their loved ones are cared for after they have gone will take the necessary steps to have a comprehensive estate plan in place. While this is a good idea regardless of the circumstances, many people will be uncertain as to whether wills or trusts are better for them. There are many factors to consider when making that determination.

In general, a full estate plan might have a will and a trust, but it is vital to decide how a person's goals fit into the strategies. A fundamental and relatively simple method is to have the assets in the testator's name and distribute them to heirs with a will. Another choice is to have a revocable living trust that will own the assets, with the trust agreement stating how distribution will be done. With a will, the property will need to go through probate. Trusts avoid probate.

Many people will be reluctant to have their estate go through probate, as it can be expensive and will take time before the assets are distributed. Also problematic is that probate is public meaning that can be viewed by people who are not involved in the process. For some, this is beneficial, as it serves as a check on possible problems. Wills have a greater chance of being subject to a challenge. This is infrequent with trusts.

Trusts have certain legal requirements. The trust is controlled by the trustee, who will manage it. Wills are not as costly as trusts. The testator will likely be the trustee and oversee the contents. Once that person is unable to do so because of disability or death, a successor will take charge. A will provides the property to the estate with probate court acting as a supervisor.

There are many factors that must be assessed when deciding which is the better option. For many, it is not clear-cut when it comes to estate planning.

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