Should I have a Will or a Living Trust? | Ryan C. Young | Estate Planning | Richmond Attorney

Ryan C. Young | Attorney
Richmond, Virginia

No one likes to face their own mortality and far too many of us neglect to put our final wishes into a legal document. The stakes are high for failing to create an estate plan, the courts rather than you determine who gets your assets and if you have minor children who takes care of them. So, though facing one’s own mortality is uncomfortable it is also necessary.

In Virginia, your attorney will usually discuss with you two types of estate planning techniques, a will and a living trust.

What a Will Contains

A will is a legal document that clearly conveys how you want your estate taken care of after you pass away. It is a binding message to your estate’s executor that directs the executor how to distribute your assets. If you have minor children your will usually stipulates who you want to care for them. Most people make this choice with the consent of whomever they choose. Those who die without a Will have passed away “intestate”. This means in Virginia, the state will determine who receives what from your estate and at what age. The laws of Virginia will also determine who will be responsible for minor children that you have by designating a legal guardian. It doesn’t matter what you have discussed with others, if it is not in your will, the state decides.

Usually, folks with small estates can handle their last wishes with a simple will that has been drawn up by an experienced attorney. Your attorney will discuss with you other options at your initial meeting including a Living Trust.

Living Trust

There are two major advantages to a living trust.

The first is that a living trust does not need to be probated in court so the estate is settled quickly.

The second reason for a living trust is that it helps minimize or avoid estate taxes.

Like a Will, it directs the trustee on who gets what, when. It can be funded after death by a “pour over will” that is a will that leaves your assets to a trust and also establishes trusts for those you wish to leave assets or money. You can even establish a trust for your pet.

While the Internet provides for many Do-It-Yourself wills and even living trusts, it is the last thing you do in life and should be done with the assistance of an experienced attorney. There are no do overs.


Law Office of Ryan C. Young, PLLC | Richmond, VA


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