Living Trust vs TOD to avoid probate


George: I’ve got a question. About 11 years ago, I lost my wife so I went and got a trust with my attorney. She said that would be the best way to prevent probate and all that stuff. I thought that was good. Last night I went to dinner with a friend of mine, he just went to one attorney this week and he said he got a TOD, transfer on death but he didn’t need a trust. 

Attorney Tom Olsen: Got it.

George: I’m confused--

Attorney Tom Olsen: Here is the simple answer George. If you call a lot of attorneys and say I want to avoid probate, they are automatically going to try to put you into a living trust because it is expensive and it is complicated. There are some simple tools to avoid probate including TOD accounts. So George, your friend may have gotten better advice than you did and that attorney may have put you into a living trust when you really did not need it. I find that happening all the time George. People that have living trusts as my commercial say, they have a false sense of security that they think “I’ve got a living trust, I paid all this money for it, everything is all good and golden”; often I find it, it’s not. So just because you have a living trust doesn’t mean that you’re okay. It’s worthwhile checking up to make sure that you’ve got everything in place. 

George: Okay, will make an appointment with the attorney, thank you very much.  

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay, very good. So folks, I want to say this clearly if you’re listening out there. People are insisting in avoiding probate and I agree. You want to avoid probate when you can. I’m all about keeping it simple. Often there are simple tools that people can use to avoid probate. Simple and inexpensive: good. Living trust; expensive and complicated: not good. Some people need a living trust and it’s perfectly appropriate for them. But if you can avoid probate using simple tools, that’s my recommendation. We can surely help you with those simple tools. We got a booklet on easy ways to avoid probate; we do workshops on easy ways to avoid probate; all those available to you if you want to talk to Chrissy at 407- 808-8398.