In a previous post we discussed many of the differences between wills and trusts. That discussion was from more of a “technical” standpoint, which can still leave a lot of questions. And those questions are typically the practical questions, such as “I have a couple of retirement accounts . . . would a will or trust be better for me?”

Generally speaking, here is a brief comparison of wills vs trusts relating to some practical considerations:

Wills tend to be sufficient in situations such as: simple and outright distribution of assets when privacy is not important.

Trusts tend to be better for handling the following: life insurance policies, qualified retirement plans (IRA, Roth IRA, 401k, 403b, etc.), somewhat more involved distribution of assets, maintaining privacy, possible or probably mental disability, desire to make it as easy as possible for family and loved ones, out-of-state real estate, out-of-state trustees (and beneficiaries), tax planning, protection of inheritance for spouse, children and grandchildren (or other loved ones), second marriages, and loved ones with special needs.

Keep in mind that there is no “one size fits all” answer to estate planning questions because each individual and each family is unique. Each estate plan should be too! Beware of the standard form document and a “telling you” versus “listening, learning and sharing with you” approach.

Call us at 616-827-7596, if you have questions or want to make sure your family’s plan is specific to who you are and what’s important to you.

Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and business planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™. This goes beyond merely planning for finances – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you. He focuses on estate and asset protection planning for the “experienced” generation, the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses and pet planning. He takes the “counselor” part of attorney and counselor at law very seriously, and enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients – many of which have become great friends.