Ashley Mueller’s 2016 Winning Scholarship Essay


Our 2016 Law Office of Kenneth P. Carp Scholarship Essay Contest Winner

Written by Ashley Mueller

Thinking Ahead: Living Trusts and Probate

You have lived the American dream to the fullest! Look what all you have accumulated. A house, a ranch, a summer home, cattle, livestock or whatever you may have in your short number of years on this earth. Since we are living organisms, sooner or later we will all pass away as a fact of nature. However, once we pass away what will happen to our estate and assets? It is important that you think of this question long before death so that person can determine what they want done with his/her property. There are several methods to consider such as a living trust or probate division, but what matters most is how you choose to pass on your legacy to your family.

Probate is the formal legal process that appoints the executor or personal representative who will administer the estate and distribute assets to the intended beneficiaries. Basically. a probate division is a supervising administration that makes sure the assignment of property is legal and fair. Probate court is good for people who may have died suddenly without time to write a will or create a complicated living trust. This way property cannot be ‘stolen’ or lost, but it shouldn’t be a first-choice plan. Probate court is often a lengthy process and has several fees such as bond premiums, publication costs, court costs and attorney’s fees.

To even further protect the interests of a person’s assets a living trust can be created. The benefits to a living trust is that there is an agreement between several parties that determines how a person’s property is managed. A particularly good attribute about a living trust is that during the person’s lifetime the living trust can be changed or revoked easily. However, upon the person’s death the trust is final and no changes may be made. Another advantage to a living trust is that it will avoid all probate expenses, since it is not subject to probate. Living trusts also keep the dispersal of assets a far more private matter than probate court because they are very few public records. A disadvantage of living trusts is that they are quite complicated and some types of income tax can apply to living trust property that do not necessarily apply to probated property.

Essentially having a living trust and will assures you that only you decide what is done with your property. You can decide on paper what will be done without the lengthy process and expenses that follow suit in a probate court. Most importantly of all, you have the reassurance that you did what you thought best for your family. This assures that your property goes to ‘your choice’ and not the state or personal representative.

These options are not often approached or known of until it is too late to create a will or living trust. People who care about their property and the long-lasting wellbeing of their family should consider creating a living trust while they are healthy. You can be sure that your property will be forever used in your best interests and there is no chance for greedy corruption. Even though you may pass away it is still important that your lives work and assets go to who you decide, not a court representative. Everybody will eventually die and nobody knows the remaining number of days we will live but God, so protect your best interests and families assets before it might just be too late.