At their most basic, wills and living trusts are designed to achieve the same goals; namely, to specify beneficiaries of an estate after you pass on. However, life isn’t as simple as just the property you own, so both of these estate planning tools can address a wide range of other matters.
If you’ve thought about creating an estate plan, chances are you’ve wondered if a will or a living trust is a more appropriate option for you. While living trusts are generally the best option, wills are valuable as well, and may need to be used in conjunction with a trust as part of a comprehensive estate plan.
What’s the Difference?
A will can best be understood as an instruction sheet – in it, you can direct who will receive your property, and who will be the legal representative to carry out your wishes. However, wills will be reviewed in a probate court, which can be a costly and time-consuming process. During probate, the court will look at all debts against the estate, determine the value of the estate, and may take property in order to settle these debts.
A trust, on the other hand, can be easily understood as an account for all your assets. In these arrangements, your property will transfer immediately to your specified beneficiaries after your death, avoiding probate altogether. One person or institution, called the trustee, will hold the property on behalf of the beneficiaries.
Things to Consider
Will You Regularly Update/Manage Your Estate Plan?
If you don’t plan on actively managing your trust, either personally or with the help of a trust attorney or financial advisor, than a will might be all you need. This is because assets which are not transferred into the trust will not be eligible for the benefits a trust provides. However, if you have a high-value estate, creating a trust still may be beneficial even if you don’t manage it regularly.
Do You Have Any Dependents With Special Needs?
The probate process can take a very long time, and during that time the assets cannot be used for important things like education, medical care, and other living expenses. A living trust can help you specify exactly how your money can be used to take care of your loved one, and is accessible immediately after your death.
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The ins-and-outs of estate planning can seem highly complex and challenging to navigate, but the process is made very simple when you call our experienced Atlanta estate planning lawyers. Our firm takes great pride in crafting personalized, effective estate plans which are perfectly aligned with our clients’ wishes.
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