My 84-year old mom is in good health and financially independent but not wealthy. (Her home is worth about $200,000 and this is about 2/3 of her assets.) She lives alone in Colorado, and her four children live on either coast or abroad. She has a will and has named my brother and my sister's husband as co-executors of her estate. My sister has heard horror stories of families who have spent a year or more in probate over estate issues because there had been no trust set up in advance. She fears complicated paper work, multiple trips to Colorado to maintain the house before it can be sold, and additional costs that may be avoided by setting up a trust in advance. She has been pressuring mom for over a year to get this done, and it is beginning to put a strain their relationship. Mom is not being proactive because she says she wants to educate herself about the issues before making any decisions, and even before meeting with a lawyer. Granted, she is a serious procrastinator, and she keeps putting off meeting with the lawyers, which is driving my sister crazy. I read one poll (of lawyers) that said only 18-24% of Americans have a trust. I always assumed these were for the wealthiest of Americans who had major assets to protect. I tend to think my sister is "catastrophizing" (imagining the worst and letting that make her miserable). I figure if it doesn't get done, we may lose 2% or 5% (or even 10%??) of the assets, and I can't believe it would be that difficult to manage (considering 80% of Americans don't do this). But then, I'm the who is living abroad, and my sister imagines she will have to take up the slack. So while setting up a trust might be the smart thing to do, I don't think it's worth arguing with mom and trying to control her. I'd like to hear personal stories from people who had to manage an estate without a trust. Is it really that bad? Should I side with my mom and tell my sister to back off? or should I side with my sister, and see what I can do to get mom on board? Or should I just stay out of it?