There may be a simple way to do a job. Unfortunately, for each simple method there is often a far more complex way of completing the work. It is not that some people like overly complex solutions. The reality is that simple solutions work for simple problems, and complex ones have a tendency of solving ever more complex problems.
In estate planning, this dynamic is most often seen encounter in the “do I need a revocable living trust or can you do it with a last will alone?"
If you find yourself caught between these horns of dilemma, the simple will and the (sometimes) complex trust arrangement, then you will want to consider a recent Forbes article titled “Wills vs. Trusts: What's Best For Retirees?”
There is a longstanding and an ongoing debate (and for good reason) in Overland Park and elsewhere.
The last will can be simple, and most everyone needs one even when they have settled a revocable living trust (i.e., commonly known as a “pour-over will”). Even with a “simple” last will, a period of probate is required and there may be some adverse tax implications. However, this is less likely these days with the federal estate tax exemption pegged at $5.34 million (but do not forget to check and "state estate taxes" that may apply).
A revocable living trust arrangement can move assets very efficiently outside of the probate process. That said, trusts are not as simple as signing on the dotted line. In reality, revocable living trusts must be regarded as a new legal entity to maintain. It must hold title to your assets now, or upon your death to do its work outside of probate (but retirment funds are a whole other kettle of fish). It takes effort, and sometimes the dedication of resources, to achieve these complex goals.
In the end, it will always come down to your needs, the needs of your family, and the nature of the assets you leave behind. However, the question is very real and worth asking: do I need a revocable living trust or can you do it all with a last will alone?
Properly answering this question, given your own unique circumstances and objectives, is not a do-it-yourself project. Consult competent legal counsel regarding how each approach may (or may not) be appropriate for you.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: Forbes (February 18, 2014) “Wills vs. Trusts: What's Best For Retirees?”