The answer to this question is probably yes, but depends on your personal goals.
A valid will tells the probate court how you want your assets distributed after you pass, but even with a will, an estate needs to go through the probate process and have the court approve the will before assets are distributed. This typically takes at least four to six months, at the very least.
If you want your estate to completely avoid the court system, you should set up a trust. With this strategy, your assets will be in the trust when you pass away and be managed/distributed by a trustee (appointed by you), rather than going through the probate process.
Another positive to setting up a trust is avoiding creditors (in Oklahoma at least, your state may differ), some creditors cannot attach a claim to a trust estate (but can to a probate estate). For example, if your mother passes away with $30,000 in medical debt from a lengthy hospital stay, and all of her assets go into a trust, a creditor cannot attach to them, but if there is no trust, a creditor can attach a claim to the estate while it is in probate. However, not all creditors are barred, secured debt like mortgages and car loans can still foreclose a claim to a trust or the asset in the trust’s name.
Many people will not want to set up a trust because because they do not want to spend more money. But having an experienced lawyer draft a trust will not only be cheaper than hiring one for probate, but will result in a much quicker turnover of assets (weeks rather than months).
Another aspect of estate planning to consider is doing a Power of Attorney and Advanced Directive/Living Will. These were recently covered in another blog post here, but in short, a Power of Attorney helps to determine who can make decisions regarding your medical care and financial decisions if you become incapacitated. Further, an Advanced Directive, can tell your medical providers what kind of treatment you want if you become seriously ill or incapacitated.
If are are serious about getting your estate plan in order and making it so much easier for your family, give us a call or contact us through the contact page and we can help you.