Some time ago I came across the above headline and heard myself say, "Amen, Brother! But you are forgetting something . . . having only a will at the time of one's mental or physical incapacity can be hazardous to the physical and emotional health of one's family as well." The article carefully listed all of the financial hazards to which an estate is subject (the high cost and long delay of probate, etc.), whether or not one has a will. The article failed to point out an even greater hazard which cannot be avoided by a will—that of providing for one's physical and financial care by family or friends in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury prior to death. A will serves one's estate only after death. A wonderfully simple and highly efficient alternative to protect from all of these hazards is a Revocable Living Trust—also known as a Family Trust.
An article in the Wall Street Journal stated that "More and more Americans are putting their assets into a Revocable Living Trust . . . while (they are) still alive. (They) can act as their own trustee so that there is no loss of control. They can change the trust at any time." Individual(s) placing their assets into such a trust are also able to direct who will care for them and their resources in the likely event that they will not be able to care for themselves at some point in the future. A properly drawn trust:
- Keeps the infirmed person from the oftenhumiliating process of having a conservatorship established for his or her care by the Probate Court.
- Makes it unnecessary for loved ones to hire an attorney and go through the emotionally devastating job of placing their family member into a conservatorship.
- Enables parents with minor or otherwise dependent children to provide for the "by whom" and the "how" of their ongoing care in the event of the disability or death of the parent(s).
Many attorneys counsel their clients to have a living trust prepared only if they have a large estate (5,000.00) or more. As Christians who acknowledge that whatever we have is ours on loan from the Lord to provide for our care and that of others, doesn't it make sense that our possessions need to be predirected no matter how much or how little we have? That is to say, in light of our responsibility to God for their use in life and after death, shouldn't we take whatever steps we can to insure that the people (including ourselves) whom God intends to benefit from "our" possessions will benefit whether or not we are able, personally, to see to it? From my personal understanding of Scripture and experience, I believe we should.
If these thoughts interest you, I urge you to see an attorney to discuss his/her drawing a Revocable Living Trust for you. If you don't have an attorney, I have prepared a single page to help you locate one. It is yours for the asking. Simply write "Attorney" on the enclosed envelope and we will get it on its way to you.