Estate Planning - Dying Intestate, Wills & Trusts: Overview - Gilbert Arizona

Dying Intestate, Wills & Trusts: Overview


Most people understand an estate plan is a good thing. However, many people do not get an estate plan in place because they fail to understand the differences between a will and trust – and dying without either.  Hopefully, Dying Intestate, Wills & Trusts: Overview will be informative and helpful.

To outline the differences, we will use an example assuming you have two children, but no spouse:

  1. Intestate. If you die intestate, your accounts and property will go through probate and all the world will know what you owned, owed, and who got what. Your mortgage company, car loan company, and credit card companies will all seek payment on balances you owed at the time of your death and it is not uncommon for predators (fake creditors) to make demands for payment – even if they are owed nothing. 

Without an estate plan, state law will decide who gets what and when. 

In short, dying intestate allows state law and the court to make all the decisions on your behalf – regardless of what you may have intended and it is open to the general public.

  1. Will. If you die with a valid will, your accounts and property will still go through the probate process. However, after creditors have been paid, the remaining accounts and property will go to whom you have named in your will. 

In short, while a court oversees the process when you have a will to coordinate how you want your affairs to be handled, the process remains public.

  1. Trust. If you have a trust, you control your estate plan, accounts and property. Accounts and property owned by the trust are not subject to the probate process allowing the details and process of transferring accounts and property to the intended individuals to remain private.

A trust identifies a trusted individual (trustee) to manage your affairs with specific instructions on how accounts and property should be dispersed and when. 

You do still need a will (pour-over will) to get any accounts or property inadvertently or intentionally left out of your trust into the name of the trust and to name guardians for minor children.

In short, a trust allows you to maintain control of your accounts and property through your chosen trustee, avoid probate, and leave specific instructions so your children are taken care of – without receiving a lump sum of money at an age where they are more likely to squander or have seized from them.

Do not let the will versus trust debate slow you down. Hopefully, Dying Intestate, Wills & Trusts: Overview was informative and helpful.  For further information of legal assistance, call us today and we will put together an estate plan that works for you and your loved ones whether it is a will, trust, or both. We are available for in-person and virtual consultations.