When a person is setting up their estate plan, a variety of different questions come up. The biggest one, understandably, tends to be: what do I want to happen with my property when I pass away?
Many questions tie into this larger one. One is: which estate planning devices will I use to control where my property goes when I die? People may be tempted to view the issue of which specific estate planning devices to use as merely a technicality. However, the specific estate planning devices a person decides to use may have real impacts (such as tax and probate implications) and thus is a decision that it is important to give careful thought to.
Each estate planning mechanism carries its own particular limitations and advantages, and thus, depending on the circumstances, a person may find that one estate planning device would be a better choice to use than another in regards to a given asset. For example, take what we discussed in one of our articles: that due to the flexibility of living trusts and their ability to allow assets to avoid probate, there are many circumstances under which an individual may find using a living trust preferable to using a will for controlling the post-death disposition of a given asset.
Thus, there is not a uniform "best estate plan," and the decision of which particular estate planning devices to use is one that is best not taken lightly. Which estate planning device or combination of estate planning devices is best suited for a person is dependent on each person's circumstances. Having detailed discussions with an estate planning attorney is one of the things an individual may find helpful in shedding light on what things they should be taking into account when making decisions regarding the estate planning devices will be a part of their estate plan.