The Moneyist: ‘I do not trust many people due to unfortunate life experiences’: I’m leaving all my estate to charity. Should I make a will or a trust?

by | Oct 16, 2023 | Stock Market

Dear Quentin, I live in Southern California and am a female solo ager. I do not trust many people due to unfortunate life experiences. For this reason, I am suspicious of revocable living trusts, which are private and confidential with no oversight.  My plan is to have a handwritten, notarized will, bequeathing my personal property and the remainder of my estate to charitable organizations. Also, in my will, I’m asking the courts to select an executor. 

In addition, I have named beneficiaries on all my bank accounts and retirement accounts, and I am doing a transfer-on-death provision for my primary residence, so I have control of my main assets while I am alive. All my beneficiaries will be charitable organizations. If it is not too much trouble, could you please be so kind as to let me know what the implications and drawbacks of taking this route would be? Any advice would be welcome. Thank you so much for your help. Sincerely, On My Own

“Make provisions for what happens when you are alive too. Arguably, this is more important.”

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Dear On My Own, Whatever you have gone through in your life, I appreciate you spinning that straw into gold by making sure that a portion of your assets go toward the causes that you most cherish. It will be your final act. The best thing we can do in life is to get through it without breaking anything and to leave a positive impact.  Holographic or handwritten wills are only legal in about half of the states in the U.S. (California does happen to be one of them). Even so, write your will under the guidance of a trust and estate attorney. Word of warning: It’s not worth writing a will on the cheap or downloading one from the Internet. Too many things can go wrong. And don’t forget to make provisions for what happens while you are still alive. Arguably, this is even more important than writing a will or setting up a trust. Name a power of attorney who would be able to make financial decisions during your lifetime should you become incapacitated, as well as a medical power of attorney who would make healthcare decisions as set out by you ahead of time. Pros and cons of setting up a trust One big caveat: If you want your estate and your wishes to remain private and confidential, a trust will serve you better than your last w …

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