Berman & Asbel, LLP

Living trusts can simplify carrying out person's last wishes

Pennsylvania residents looking to plan for the future of their estates may be wondering if they should set up a will or living trust. According to legal experts, it all depends on a person's circumstances.

If family members are at odds with each other, trusts may work better than wills. A key advantage to trusts is that a person's assets will not go through probate but go directly to the heirs. Some assets, however, such as insurance policies, IRAs or co-owned property with right of survivorship, automatically skip the probate process and go directly to heirs even if a trust hasn't be set up. If one's assets mostly fall into one of the latter categories, a will may be better than a trust.

A trust makes dividing assets easier when a person owns property in more than one state. Without a trust, each property may have to go through separate probates in the state that it's located in. A living trust also makes it easier to disinherit a child or give different amounts to each child.

Estate planning is an important part of a person's financial picture. Without a will or trust, the state government may decide how a person's assets will be allocated among heirs. Proper estate planning will protect a person's last wishes and lead to an organized disbursement of assets. Trusts can be more complex to set up than wills. Therefore, a person may wish to consult with an estate planning attorney who may be able to come up with a plan that meets specific needs.

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