Probate used to be an extremely expensive thing over 30 years ago because it used to cost a lot of money, which is really when trusts became more popular in the day to day world. They have been around for super wealthy families like the Carnegies and the Rockefellers and so on, as a mechanism by which to transfer assets from generation to generation and avoid huge taxes.
It was not a big sum but it was there to avoid some other ones. The probate costs really started to skyrocket in the 70s and it was just really cumbersome, expensive and people did not like it so they started looking for ways to avoid probate.
This is when the modern trust, as we know it, became popular in a day to day life and in a day to day living. There are a huge number of other benefits of having a trust, but this is basically how it gained its popularity.
A lot of places have changed their probate process to combat that, including state legislatures. The costs have gone down and it has become easier to do and to use because it is now much more user-friendly. It can certainly cost more to do that, even if it was just paying the filing fees or any of the other charges.
A lot of people want to hire an attorney to do all the paperwork because they would be filing documents with the court, so it would have to be handled that way, whereas, with a trust, the person would already have an attorney who they had been working with for any number of years and who had been maintaining the plan they worked together on. That attorney would already have all the paperwork and they would already know everything.
I can actually cap the fees or I can somewhat guarantee clients that it would not cost more than a specified amount to actually administer their estate, provided they maintained an estate, kept it current with me, we did the things we needed to do and it was maintained year after year.
If I did just a will for somebody, and then they went to some other attorney 10 years later, there would be no telling what that attorney would charge and what other issues might come up because the will had not been maintained.
A properly drafted trust that was implemented, utilized and maintained would by far end up being cheaper and easier, and the person would actually get a far better result for what they wanted than if they tried to do it through a will and probate process.
Does It Take Less Time To Settle An Estate Involving A Living Trust Instead Of A Will?
Yes, it would, mainly because judicial intervention would not be required. For example, let us suppose someone had an estate they had set up through a will instead of through a trust. In this case, they would have to get a copy of the original will and go down to court. They would not be able to go on a holiday and they would not be able to go at certain times because they may have to make an appointment.
The person acting as the executor would actually have to show up in court and be sworn in or take an oath stating they would handle everything. They may even have to post a bond depending on what the rules stated, what the will stated and what the State law stated.
All of this would take time, and most people just do not have a bond set up in the place where they could just drop it off down there on lunch break, so they would have to go and get all that set up.
All things being equal, if everything happened exactly the same, there would just be that many more added steps through the probate process because of the judicial intervention, oversight and the fact the person would have to go down to court and handle things.
With a trust, the process really would not skip a beat. If the trustee died, it would be as simple as just looking at the paperwork and seeing who was assigned to be the next trustee. Hopefully, the new person who was assigned would know they were the successor trustee, so they would be able to pick up right where the first trustee left off and it would not miss a beat, whereas, with an estate, everything would just stop.
With an estate, bank accounts and everything else would be frozen, and all of those places would have to be notified that the individual was deceased. This would not mean that a new person could just walk in and start taking care of business because they would have to get permission and provide things like legal documentation.
There would definitely be a delay and a pause, and there would definitely be more steps involved in probating the same estate if it was being done through probate versus just administering it through a trust.
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