WILLS v. TRUSTS
While many people who ask for an estate planning consultation first think of a "simple Will", because it is "simple", most do not think of the long term cost of probate. While it is true a short Will may be easy to read and understand, and is of relatively low cost up front, often the ultimate expense of probating an estate through the probate court process is overlooked. Not only are there additional filing fees, but there are also inventory fees and, in general, greater expense because "Probate" always involves "court" which takes more time and costs more money. NOTE: Doing a Will does NOT avoid probate. This is a common misconception.
Most of the time one should at least consider setting their estate up in trust. The size of the pile of paper is considerably bigger, no question about it. However, the net effect of funding your assets into a trust that you manage for your lifetime allows probate to be avoided in most instances. The advantage of avoiding court/probate also means that there is a much higher degree of privacy with regard to what assets are being left, who gets them, and any of your specific directives, if not restrictions on the use of the property. In essence you have far more flexibility with regard to estate planning by "going Trust" then by simply executing a Will. Your loved ones will certainly find the administration of a Trust much easier to accomplish and wrap up if you take the time during your lifetime to set your estate up in Trust.
Trusts are not just for the "rich". Trusts are for those who want to be kind to those that are eventually going to receive the property, provide for some structure for not just children, but even grandchildren, great-grandchildren or any loved ones to not receive an inheritance before they are ready. A Trust will allow the delay of any distributions to an appropriate age, such as after college. The options are limitless.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
Most people also do not think of a Power of Attorney for either health or finances until a climactic event that necessitates one in a hurry, i.e. NOW. Good estate planning usually means providing powers of attorney while health is good so that when health, travels, accidents, the aging process or whatever brings the need to have one person be able to sign on behalf of another person, having the powers of attorney already in place is a huge blessing.