If you are getting ready, are in the middle of, or have just completed your initial estate planning meeting with your law attorney then you may be considering several different options. Two of them may be a will and a trust, respectively. They both ultimately do the same job of protecting and distributing your money but they do that job in very distinct ways. Here are some of the major things that a trust and a will do differently, as well as a few that they do the same.

What they Both Cover

First and foremost both documents are able to be put in place to protect your assets. Both trusts and wills can be written to allow your beneficiary’s access to the assets that you have left them, while at the same time protecting those assets. Protect them from what, you may ask? Well, things like divorce, lawsuits, settlements and even bankruptcy.

Both also allow you to name who is going to get your assets once you are gone. A will lets you name individuals and transfer assets directly from yourself to that person. A trust is only in control of assets named to the trust specifically. This means you must define what belongs to the trust, typically called funding, and then decide what the trust is going to do with the assets after that.

What a Revocable Living Trust can do that a Will Cannot

You will notice that a specific kind of trust is being spelled out here. That is because there are several different types of trusts that are available for you to choose from. Each one has some subtle differences. If there are specifics that aren’t listed here your elder law attorney can help you to choose a more appropriate trust.

Trusts are a private document. That means that, unlike wills, a trust is able to keep the details of your estate private after you are gone. Neighbors, friends, competitors and the public-at-large have no access to what is kept in a trust and how it is handed out. This means that if there is a considerable amount of money transferred to a beneficiary they will not be hounded about that amount.

Another thing trusts can do is bypass the probate process. Probate is where all of your assets are counted, debts settled and affairs wrapped up. This is a long public process your family may wish to avoid.

What a Will can do that a Revocable Living Trust Cannot

Wills allow you to name an executor who will take care of your estate after you die while a trust cannot. The executor is your legal representative through the probate process.

Wills also allow you to specify who you wish the guardianship of your children or other dependents pass to after your death while a trust is not able to do this.

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It is never too soon to begin estate planning. Contact Stano Law group to begin!