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Estate planning: Should you list a house in a trust or will?

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2023 | Estate Planning |

When you execute an estate plan, you are taking control of your assets and ensuring the fulfilment of your wishes for final care and burial. Like most people in Florida and beyond, one of your largest assets is likely your home. You might already have someone in mind to bequeath it to when you die. There’s more than one way to bequeath a house, however. It’s a good idea to explore your options ahead of time to determine which course of action best fits your estate planning goals.

The two most common ways to transfer ownership of a house to someone when you die is to either list the house in a last will and testament, designate a particular person to inherit it or to place the house in a trust. What works best for one person might not be a good idea for another. This is why it’s helpful to seek guidance and support before executing an estate plan, so that you know you have chosen the most effective documents to carry out your plan.

Assets in a trust do not have to pass through probate

If you place money or other assets in a trust, they do not have to pass through probate when you die. On the contrary, any assets you bequeath in a last will and testament will be subject to probate. The probate process takes time — sometimes many months or longer.

Therefore, if you want a beneficiary to be able to attain ownership of your home as swiftly as possible, it’s best to use a trust rather than to list it as an asset in a will. Another benefit of placing your house in a trust (rather than a will) is that you can include specific instructions, especially if you are bequeathing it to someone who is still a minor when you die. Placing a house in a trust may help minimize estate taxes, as well.

Is there a downside to choosing a trust over a will?

Placing a house in a trust as an inheritance for someone when you die would typically be a more expensive process than listing the house in your last will and testament. However, many people weigh the benefits against the downside and determine that it’s worth paying a little more and doing the paperwork that is necessary to create a trust.

If you’re not sure whether your estate planning needs would be better served by creating a trust or signing a will (or both), it’s wise to ask someone with estate law experience to review your plans and recommend which documents to include and which to omit from your estate plan.