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A few pros and cons of trusts vs wills

In the early stages of estate planning, many Tennessee residents will consider whether they should make use of a will or trust to pass on inherited wealth. While there are a number of pros and cons associated with each choice, many people find that trusts offer a greater range of benefits versus a traditional will. Each individual will have a unique set of needs, but trusts have certain advantages that appeal to many.

One of the biggest advantages of a trust is the fact that it allows an estate to avoid the probate process. Probate can be time-consuming, stressful and expensive. In addition, a will does nothing to protect a family's privacy, and information about inheritances, wealth and property is open to public viewing. Assets placed within a trust, on the other hand, remain a wholly private matter.

Another benefit of a trust is the superior level of protection afforded to beneficiaries. When wealth is inherited through a will, those assets become subject to loss in a lawsuit, divorce or other legal action. A properly structured trust will serve to shield those assets from losses. Assets used to fund a trust become the property of the trust itself, and not the beneficiary. As such, that wealth is not able to be seized during property division or by way of a lien.

Wills do have some advantages over trusts, most significantly the fact that they are simpler to create and less expensive to complete. However, for many in Tennessee, the protections offered by trusts far outweigh any negatives. Once a trust has been properly structured and funded, the assets held within are guarded from loss. Even better, a revocable trust gives individuals the chance to make changes during their lifetime, so that the trust can shift to accommodate the changing needs of the family.

Source: CBS News, "5 reasons you need a trust, not a will", Ray Martin, Sept. 17, 2015

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