The last will is not the only way to transfer assets to your family members after you pass away, and in many cases other methods would be preferable. Every family is different, and depending on the form that your assets are in and the exact nature of your wishes any number of strategies may be optimal. A lot of people are aware of the fact that other options exist, but they are under the impression that only people of extraordinary means need to consider them, but this is not the case at all.
The reason why many people choose to use an alternative to a last will is because your estate must pass through the process of probate when you use a last will as your primary instrument of asset transfer. Probate is something that a lot of individuals choose to avoid for three primary reasons. For one, it is costly, routinely consuming in the neighborhood of 3%-5% of your total estate and sometimes even more in complex cases.
Secondly, it can take quite a bit of time for an estate to be probated and closed and the heirs to the estate usually do not receive their inheritances during this interim. Finally, probate is a public proceeding that opens a window of opportunity to anyone who may be interested in challenging your will.
The most commonly utilized alternative is the revocable living trust. This option is very appealing because of the fact that you as the grantor retain total control of the assets while you are alive. But upon your passing the resources are transferred to your beneficiaries outside of the process of probate in accordance with your wishes. Plus, you can set it up to put the wheels in motion for administration of your affairs according to your own stipulations in the event of your incapacitation.