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Revocable Living Trust v. Will: Which Is Right for You?

Choosing between a revocable living trust and a will for your estate plan depends on your personal concerns and goals. The main difference between the two estate planning options is the necessity of probate. A will requires probate, which is a court-supervised process that administers your estate to your heirs and beneficiaries. On the other hand, a revocable living trust does not require the court-supervised probate process. Consequently, this option obtains more privacy by creating a trust agreement between the trust creator, or grantor, and the trust entity. The grantor often serves as the trustee, managing the property placed within the trust, until he or she dies and a successor trustee takes over, distributing trust property per the trust agreement.

Upon submitting your will to probate, your estate will become public record, allowing anyone to review what you owned and whom you are leaving it to. Although this may sound intrusive, probating your will can still prove to be the more beneficial option for your estate plan. If you live in a state, like Texas, where probate is not a burdensome process, then a will is likely appropriate for you. The only other issue you will need to consider is whether your estate is under the estate tax lifetime exemption amount-$5.6 million for individuals in 2018. If your estate is under this amount in Texas, then a will is best for you. However, if your estate exceeds this limit, then a revocable living trust will be more beneficial in reducing your estate tax bill.

Further, if you have minor children or other dependents with special needs, then a revocable living trust is the right estate planning move for you. A trust will allow you to set provisions and limitations that establish when these beneficiaries can inherit specific assets held in trust and who may need access and control over such assets. Ultimately, picking the right estate planning option will depend on the future goals you envision for you and your loved ones.

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