Estate Planning Law Firm

When you’re working on an estate plan, you might come across a lot of options for documents to include. Do you need a will? Do you need a trust? Aren’t they the same thing? The following goes over some of the specifics so you can see why both are important in your plan.

What Both a Will and Trust Can Accomplish

One of the main purposes for both a will and a trust is to name beneficiaries. Whether you have few or many assets, you’ll name the individuals you want to end up with each piece of property. Be specific so your beneficiaries don’t end up fighting about anything.

A will and a trust also allow you to leave property to your children if they are minors. By placing the property in a trust, it is managed by a trustee until your child turns whatever age you determine in the trust. By leaving the property to children in a will, you’ll need to name an adult to care for the property until the child is of age.

Finally, you can revise both documents while you are still alive. Other documents are set in stone forever, but if you change your mind on something in a trust or a will, you can revise it at any time. It only becomes permanent upon your death.

Some Differences Between the Two

As you can see, this is not all you’ll want to accomplish with an estate plan. The following are some differences between the two documents.

  • Living Trusts – This helps you avoid probate for surviving loved ones, keeps privacy after your death, can help you avoid a conservatorship, requires you transfer the property, requires notarization and protects your survivors from challenges in court. You don’t have these same benefits from a will.
  • Wills – Allow you to name guardians for minor children, financial guardians for your children’s property, the designation of an executor, and instructions about debts and taxes. These are simpler to create, only requiring two witness signatures instead of getting notarized.

What Neither Document Will Do

While these things may help you feel like you are being thorough, there are some things you can’t put in your will or a trust. This includes leaving property to a pet, detailing your final funeral and burial plans, or leaving passwords to accounts.

Beginning the Process of Your Estate Plan

As you can see, there are some real differences between a will and a trust. They’re both important when planning your estate, and an estate planning lawyer can help you create them.