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Will or Trust: How to Choose Which Is Right for You

A willIf you are planning your estate, this can be an overwhelming time. There are many considerations, and it can be difficult to know how to best take care of your loved ones. You do not have to do this alone.

You are taking the right step by planning your estate, regardless of your age. Shockingly, nearly half of Americans over 55 have not made provisions for their estate.

An experienced and compassionate estate planning attorney can guide you through this process. One of the questions you’ll have is whether you should have a will or a trust. There are key differences to understand between the two instruments. While they are similar in some ways, they also differ in significant ways.

What Is a Will?

A will is a legal document that specifies how certain elements of your estate will be handled upon your death. It takes effect at the time of death and generally includes the beneficiaries who will receive your assets, how those assets will be distributed, as well as who will be the guardian of any young children.

When a will is created, it also specifies who the executor will be. This is the person who will execute the directives of the will. Typically, this may be a spouse, friend, adult child, or another close relative. It’s important to note that a will is a public document, so the details will not be kept private.

What Is a Trust?

A trust is a legal document. One type of trust is called a revocable living trust. A trust can be either individual or shared. When you create a trust, you then transfer your assets into the trust. This includes property, financial accounts, and real estate. You maintain control over these assets and the trust while you are still living.

To manage the trust, you will designate one or more trustees. A trustee will distribute the property after you pass away. A revocable living trust is named this way because it means that you have the right to revoke it. This is in contrast to an irrevocable trust, which cannot be changed after it is finalized. In addition to being able to revoke an irrevocable trust, you also have the right to appoint and remove trustees.

What Are Reasons That I Would Want to Choose a Will?

A will is comparatively less complex to create than a trust. In addition, a will has a lower upfront cost than a trust. This means that you will pay less to create a will. However, there will likely be future costs associated with the will going to probate court. These include probate court fees and probate attorney fees that will need to be paid by your beneficiaries.

A will allows you to name future guardians for your young children, while a trust does not. In a will, you can also name property managers for your children’s property. A will also allows you to include instructions for how taxes and debts associated with your account will be paid. For example, you can specify that certain debts owed to you will be forgiven.

Why Would I Want to Choose a Living Trust?

LawyerThere are multiple reasons why you may want to create a trust instead of a will. A trust is more difficult to contest than a will. A trust is not a public document, so the details of your assets and their distribution will be kept confidential. In addition, while a will must go through the probate process, a trust does not. This means there are no associated probate court fees or probate attorney fees. It also means that the process of administering the trust after you pass away can take less time than the execution of a will.

A trust does carry a higher upfront cost than a will. This means that you will pay more at the time of creation. However, your beneficiaries will not have to bear these costs in the future. With a trust, you also have more control over how your assets are transferred to your beneficiaries.

How Staubus and Randall Can Help

If you are considering creating a will or trust, you should speak with an estate planning attorney today. In some situations, it may be that a combination of a will and trust is the most appropriate. You owe it to yourself and your family to understand how the differences between these legal documents may affect you.

Call us today at 214-691-3411 to speak with a Dallas estate planning attorney of Staubus and Randall. You can also send us your information using our online contact form. Each case is unique, and our team can help you make the best choice for your situation.


The Firm

The attorneys at Staubus and Randall have over 100 years of combined experience in estate planning, probate, and litigation. We have the knowledge and skills to tackle complex legal issues, such as guardianships, will contests, fiduciary litigation, and trust litigation. We can also handle routine matters, such as estate administration, probating wills, heirship determinations, and other probate court matters.

Staubus and Randall received a preeminent AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating possible from a peer-rated legal service. This rating recognizes our hard work, dedication, and the case results we’re able to achieve.

Staubus & Randall Team

What Our Clients Say

"I recently had the occasion to hire Mr. Staubus for a hotly contested Guardianship matter. Mr. Staubus brought a rare combination of effectiveness, reasonableness and understanding of the human element involved. Mr. Staubus handled all things in a calm, highly competent, effective and reasonable way. It could not have been as easy as he made it seem. He's a credit to the Bar."


"Before retaining the guidance of the Staubus & Randall firm, I was at my wit's end trying to close an uncle's estate as a co-executor. In addition to dealing with difficult heirs, I had other pressing business issues coming up immediately on estate land in the middle of the Eagleford Shale including dealings with pipeline, seismic, oil & gas, and construction companies. The local bank also refused to give me access to information relating to the estate. This quickly became the most stressful and desperate time in my life...and then I found Joseph Legere who truly became my guardian angel. He was able to get all issues resolved efficiently and the estate fully closed. His professionalism, immense legal knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and amazing communication skills took the burdens off of me and quickly got closure. I am forever indebted to this firm for giving me my life back."


"Without exception, the legal service, professional attitude, prompt communication of your firm and your legal knowledge is second to none. I only wish I had an attorney here in Boston that could hold a candle to your experience and expertise. Working with you has been a pleasure, but even more, has made me believe that there are knowledgeable attorneys that do care about doing a good job. Thank you Keith! You may not truly understand how much of an impact you are having on peoples lives, but for me, you have helped change my life. As I begin making my dreams come true I can't help but remember none of this would be possible without you."


"Keith Staubus and Julie Blankenship and their team represented me in a jury trial in the probate court where the ownership of the business which I had worked hard to build was at stake. They successfully fought to preserve my business and my professional reputation, working masterfully to gain the support of the jury. I would not hesitate to hire them again in any bet-the-company litigation.”


"I have required legal representation twice in my life in two separate will contests. Both times I sought assistance from Keith Staubus and Staubus/Randall. Their service, approach, and determination to obtain results exceeded the other attorneys in each case. Mr. Staubus has always come across as genuine while being direct. He gets the process done in a timely manner with results. I will certainly use him again when and if any new challenges arise.”


"After my husband's death, I was devastated by having to defend against a vicious dispute over my husband's estate. Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus made me feel very comfortable in this distressing situation. They were very tough and did an excellent job for me in obtaining a summary judgment in my favor without a full jury trial. I was glad to have them and Diane Walker in my corner to help me achieve an excellent result - I won! If I ever had to go back to probate court, I would hire them again.” - (will and trust construction case)


"If you need intervention for someone you love but don't know where to turn or who to turn to, Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus helped me through the most difficult and stressful time in my life with a much loved family member. I now believe that good will triumph over evil. They fought for what was right, and good prevailed." (contested guardianship and will contest)


"As a professional money manager, I have used Ryan Randall's estate planning services both personally and for my clients. Ryan has exhibited three critical attributes in his work with me: (1) high intellectual capacity, (2) exceptional thoroughness, and (3) a total commitment to integrity. In today's litigious world, it can be quite costly not to "get things done right.” An added bonus to us was that we found one of the nicest people we could imagine.”


"I was represented by Keith Staubus as an income beneficiary in a lawsuit with the trustee of a family trust. Utilizing the expertise of a forensic accountant and his own trust expertise, Keith was able to negotiate a judicial modification of the trust providing for the buyout of my income interest for a substantial lump sum payment out of the trust, resulting in a win-win situation for all of the parties. I highly recommend Staubus/Randall for any trust disputes and trust modification actions."


"I have been a wealth management specialist and retirement plan consultant with the Dallas/Fort Worth financial community for over 20 years. I have engaged Ryan Randall to work with a number of my best clients over the years, including business owners, professionals and families. My clients always appreciate Ryan’s straightforward approach to estate planning, asset protection planning and business succession planning. He makes even the most sophisticated estate planning strategies understandable."

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