Is a Will Enough when You’re Making Your Estate Plans?

When you write a will, your general goal is to list what you own — cash, investments, homes, cars, art collections, etc — and leave those assets to specific people. Some people use a will to give certain assets to specific heirs, such as leaving a painting that a child loved to that child so that they can hang it in their own home. Some just use a will to evenly divide their wealth between their children and prevent disputes.

While all of this is helpful, you may find yourself wondering if it is enough. Does the will do everything you want your estate plan to do? To a large degree, it’s a question of control.

A will gives you some control, but a trust can give you more. Say you want to leave your money to your child, but you want to make sure they use it to pay for their college tuition before anything else. An education trust can set the money aside for that purpose. An incentive trust, on the other hand, can stipulate that they need to complete the rest of their education before getting the money. You could use one trust to pay for them to go to college and the other to give them the incentive to work hard and graduate.

Not everyone wants this level of control over their estate, but many parents and grandparents do. They worked hard for their money. They want to know that their heirs are going to use it well, and a will just doesn’t allow that. These are just two examples of trusts that you can use, but make sure you carefully consider all of your options. An experienced advocate can help you learn more.

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