When parents pass away without clear instructions in place about how to divide their assets upon their death, they may leave family members battling over inheritance for years. Such fights can cause rifts that are sometimes impossible to heal.
A will contains detailed instructions on how a person wants their assets, such as family heirlooms and household items, to be distributed after they pass away. In the absence of a will expressing your wishes, the state will determine how your assets are distributed according to a predetermined formula. While initially less costly than a trust, it is subject to the delay and expense of probate.
However, simply writing a will and consistently updating it is not enough to prevent conflict regarding estate settlements. At the heart of most successful estate plans is a revocable living trust. A revocable trust is essentially a comprehensive method of estate planning and a tool for avoiding probate. Revocable trusts reduce the potential for family infighting about who gets what and keeps matters out of court. As opposed to a will, a revocable trust always remains private.
As the trustee of your own trust, you can decide how your assets should be distributed upon your passing. You can also appoint a trustee to oversee the division of assets based on your wishes if you are unable to do so.
Parents can preserve harmony and minimize the chance of future disputes by communicating their wishes to their children while they are still alive. A revocable living trust will ensure that their estate is treated in a timely and precise manner upon their death. Even families with modest wealth can benefit from smart estate planning for the future.