Will or Revocable Trust?

Should I have a will or a revocable trust? This has sometimes been called the John Wayne problem and the Bing Crosby solution. John Wayne had an estate of approximately 12 million dollars and left a will that was sent to probate in Orange County, California. John Wayne’s estate was subject to litigation and controversy and many thousands of dollars were expended during ten plus years of litigation over the estate. His heirs literally waited for years without full access to the property that, eventually, became theirs.

Bing Crosby used a revocable trust, a trust in which he was the initial trustee and in which another party could take over at such a time as he was no longer able to be trustee. The revocable trust does cost between $1,000 and $3,000 to establish but does have a number of very good benefits. First, it is private. No one knows what the estate of Bing Crosby was because it was in the trust. Furthermore, no one knows what the provisions for distributing that estate were because those are also private since they are in the trust.

Of course, everyone is different, and only your trusted financial and legal advisors can help you decide what is best for your situation.