With low income and assets, which is better? Will or trust?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

We have under $200.00 in the bank, own a $75,000 manufactured home and a $13,000 automobile. We also have moderate life insurances. What's best for us, will or trust.

Expert Answers

I do not have enough information to give you a definitive answer regarding whether a will or a trust would be best for you. In estate planner's terms, you have modest assets. So probably a will is best for you, because a will is the simplest and cheapest death-transfer document to prepare. However, property left by a will must normally go through probate, which is time-consuming and expensive. Some states provide exemptions from normal probate for smaller estates. These exemptions vary by state, and can range from $200,000 to only a few thousand. I do not know what state you live in, so I can't tell whether there's a probate exemption in your state that can benefit you.

Property left by a living trust avoids probate. You may want to investigate preparing a living trust yourself. There are various good resources you can find that will enable you to do-it-yourself and create your own trust. I do not recommend that you see a lawyer to have a trust prepared. The lawyer's fees will be more than it's sensible for you to pay.