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  • Writer's pictureJohn Stevens

Does Will or a Trust Cost More?

I get this question often. Most people who ask it are anxious about how the cost of transferring their hard earned assets at their death. They have heard from friends about the benefits of a living trust but someone else, a lawyer friend, CPA or financial advisor, has questioned why go through the "extra" expense of a trust when a simple will can get the job done.

I suggest asking the person that is pouring cold water on living trusts to explain when and how a will passes assets at death. For bonus points, ask which assets a will passes at death. (Answer: There is no simple general answer that applies to everyone. In Tennessee, it depends upon what you own, who else owns it, how it is titled, is there a beneficiary be named, and numerous other possibilities.

So how much does a will cost? Depends. (Sorry for the lawyer answer!) What you probably don't realize about the cost of a will is that there is another cost.

And this cost you won't have to pay! But your family does.

It's the cost of the probate court lawsuit. What?

Yep. The lawsuit. A will has no legal effect until a court says it is valid. None. Zip. Zero. No bank will honor it. No insurance company either. Not the government. It's not worth the paper its written on until a judge has decided it is actually your last will and testament.

So if you've got an appointment with an attorney to make out your "simple will" be sure to ask how much will the mandatory probate of the will cost as well.

A will is not "alive" until you die and a judge says it is valid. Period.

A trust is alive, however, much sooner. It comes to life while you are alive. if it handled properly and professionally, it can avoid the cost of probate completely!

So if you are comparing prices, be sure to compare the whole price.

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