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Why trusts may be better than wills for some estate plans

People in Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia may want to consider using a trust instead of a will in their estate planning. This has been the recommendation of the AARP since 1991. There can be a number of advantages to using a trust over a will.

Many people like trusts because unlike wills, they are private documents. Assets in a trust do not have to pass through the probate process, and this might reduce the likelihood of legal challenges. Assets that have been in an irrevocable Medicaid Asset Protection Trust for at least five years are protected from nursing home costs. Trusts can also be created that protect assets in case a person gets a divorce or remarries. With an inheritance trust, assets left to children will then pass on to their children instead of to a spouse. Trusts can also be useful in blended families. A trust can ensure that a person's assets pass to children instead of a spouse, who may remarry and give those assets to a new family.

Trusts can reduce complications when a person dies in one state but has real estate in another state. A will might have to pass through probate in both states in this circumstance. Finally, living trusts can help with disability planning. A trustee can be named to manage an incapacitated person's affairs.

There are circumstances in which a will may be a more appropriate estate planning document for some people. In these cases, a person may use powers of attorney for disability planning. A medical power of attorney can appoint someone to make medical decisions on an incapacitated person's behalf, and a financial power of attorney gives someone the ability to handle a person's financial affairs. Along with other estate planning documents, these should be reviewed and updated as needed.

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