A will may be the most cost effective estate planning instrument on the front end. Wills save money, trouble and time even when there is not much estate to distribute. Entering into probate without a will means either posting a bond for the value of the estate, making an inventory and accounting that anyone who wants can see, or getting all the potential heirs to sign off that they don’t want a bond, inventory or accounting. Wills mean the person you believe to be most qualified to run the estate rather than who the law picks.
Wills do not have to cost much. At the same time, wills can contain a great deal of complexity; handling situations and saving familial disputes and taxes. For instance a will can set up a number of trusts that only come into being when the testator dies.
Wills may be the most that any average person will ever need by way of testamentary documents. They are not always the answer. Someone who is likely to need benefits in the future may need an irrevocable trust instead. Additionally, if there is real property in more than one state the additional cost of a trust is less than the ancillary probate in the state where the property is will cost.
A decision about what testamentary instrument to use for complex estates is one that ought to be made with input from the attorney, the financial advisor and an accountant.