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 trust?

by | Oct 16, 2023 | Stock Market

Dear Quentin, I currently 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 in all my bank accounts, retirement accounts and I am doing a transfer-on-death 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/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 Your 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 towards the causes that you most cherish. It will be your final act, and the best thing we can do in life is get through it without breaking anything, and leaving a positive impact in our wake.  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. A side note: Make provisions for what happens when you are alive too. Arguably, this is more important. A power of attorney who would be able to make financial decisions during your lifetime should you become incapacitated. A medical power of attorney would make healthcare decisions as set out by you ahead of time, if you became incapacitated. 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 will and testament going through probate court. When your will is …

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