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Differences in Wills and Trusts

Add to that the fact that there are so many different types of trusts and it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Here is a quick outline that discusses the differences between last wills, living wills and living trusts.

Most people are familiar with the last will, or last will and testament. It’s a legal document that you compose prior to death that specifies what is to be done with your property once you pass. It also outlines your last wishes, such as how you’d like to be buried, and names guardians for your children if they’re underage. The execution of a will goes through a branch of the legal system called ‘probate’ in which attorneys and the court become involved to ensure that taxes are paid, debts are settled, and the will is carried out properly. Depending on the size of your estate, this could substantial amounts of time.

In contrast, a living will is a legal document that specifies your wishes in the event that you’re incapacitated. It’s a document that is primarily used for healthcare issues such as organ donation and life support measures to ensure that you’re being cared for the way you wish.

Lastly, a living trust is very similar to a last will only the execution of a trust will not go through the probate process. A trust specifies a certain individual, a trustee, whom the property is transferred to for holding until it’s bequeathed to the beneficiaries. Trusts are a good option for people with underage children that will eventually inherit the estate. The property will stay under the supervision of the trustee until the child reaches a certain age at which time the property is transferred to them. Often living trusts have last wills within them but keeps the details of the estate private unlike wills which do not. But the main advantage of a trust is that by avoiding probate, court and attorney fees are kept at a minimum.  

As your estate grows it becomes all the more important to plan and provide for your loved ones after death. In the event that you pass without one of these documents it’s left up to the court entirely; a process that can be vicious, costly and interminable. For more information and estate planning advice, seek out the assistance of a professional attorney like James B. Head Law. It’s never too early or late to start taking care of your loved ones.
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