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Having a will may not be enough

Michigan families that have an estate plan will almost always have a will in place. However, they often want to know whether they need a trust if they already have a will. In many cases, the answer to this question is yes.

When one passes away with a will, the estate will still need to go through probate in order for the property to be distributed to the beneficiaries. One can never quite know for sure what will happen when an estate goes through probate as the will is subject to challenges. Moreover, it takes several months to go through probate even when it is not contested.

When there is a trust in place, the estate avoids probate. While there are some assets such as life insurance proceeds and retirement accounts that can avoid probate if there is a beneficiary named, other assets must go through the process. When there is a trust created, the trust is a legal entity that holds the property so no ownership transfer process is necessary. Of course, there are expenses involved to establish a trust so one needs to weigh the costs against the benefits of speedy distribution of the property. One of the best options that can mimic a will and can keep an estate out of probate is a revocable living trust.

This area of the law is complicated and even a small mistake in wills or trusts can have significant consequences. An estate planning attorney may be able to advise clients whether a trust is necessary and can review the estate plan to ensure that it is correct. They could also establish the trust properly and facilitate trust administration once a person passes away. Disputed wills and estate plans can be contentious and can distract a family at a vulnerable and stressful time.

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