Is a Trust better to have vs a Will?

Asked on September 23, 2012 under Estate Planning, Rhode Island


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A trust is not necessarily better to have than a will.  A trust is administered without court supervision, so it is one means of "avoiding probate" - i.e., distributing assets after death without opening an estate in court.  However, there are some limitations to a trust.  The most important limitation is that a trust can only distribute assets that are titled in the trust.  Therefore, the grantor/settlor (person who creates the trust) must be very careful to title everything in the trust.  Some things are not appropriately titled in the trust - such as retirement accounts and often homestead property or businesses.  The trust can be listed as the beneficiary for retirement accounts and insurance policies and real estate can be placed in joint and survivorship deeds if that is appropriate.

I like trusts and find them very useful for many of my clients.  However, I always prepare a will in addition to a trust to handle the assets that are not titled in the trust and take care of anything that did not get titled in the trust, for whatever reason.  I suggest you speak with a life planning or estate planning lawyer in your jurisdiction to answer your questions and help you understand all your options.

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