Saturday, May 25, 2013

Smart Estate Planning: Living Trust or Last Will and Testament

Estate planning might be really complicated and intimidating to those who don't grasp the differences involving the two most typically used legal instruments: a Living Trust and a Last Will and Testament. The idea behind a Living Trust or a Last Will and Testament is to help manage the dispersal of your possessions when you pass away. Lots of people are familiar with idea of these terms but not what they entail or how they are similar or different from one another.

What Is the Purpose of the Last Will and Testament?

By prepping a Last Will and Testament, you can designate which specific assets are bequeathed to specific beneficiaries. It can be set up with the distribution being any way you like. For example, you might leave your household and automotive vehicle to a single person while your antique books go to someone else and your cash to a third party. An executor that you designate will supervise the delivery of your assets based on your Will. The document can also be used to create your selection for guardianship of any minor children.

What Is the Purpose of a Living Trust?

A Will is only used once you have passed away. A Living Trust is set up and put into effect while you are still alive. It is revocable which means you can make modifications to it as you choose. You can transfer some or all your assets to it at first and have the balance transferred to it upon your death by creating a Pour-over-Will. The Living Trust is used to control your real estate while you are alive and after you have passed away. It creates the way your investments and any earnings they generate are taken care of and dispersed after your passing. In the event you become incapable or bedridden, the Trust can still be controlled by a successor trustee you have named.

What are the big differences between the Last Will and Testament and The Living Trust?

With a Last Will and Testament, the document becomes public following your death. It undergoes probate court and allows the court to deal with any challenges made with regard to beneficiaries or arguments raised by creditors. Any assets possessed in some other state go through probate trials in that state. For the Last Will and Testament to become carried out properly, you will also will want to set up either a Power of Attorney or a Conservatorship to maintain properties.

Living Trusts stay discreet following your passing and none of the documents are declassified. They are also immune to probate court and therefore avoid any associated costs. Investments in other states also keep away from probate provided that they pertain to the trust. Living Trusts do not give automatic court guidance to settle disputes among beneficiaries or creditors.

Another major distinction between Last Wills and Testaments and Living Trusts is your ability as grantor to manage the Trust for as long as you are able or wish to do so. A Living Trust makes it possible for you to name a successor for such a period as you are not able or willing to supervise the trust.

One of the biggest factors in determining which legal instrument to use is expense. Building a Last Will and Testament normally is less than creating a Living Trust. Each provide about the equivalent tax saving provisions. Where the big difference comes into play is in the probate fees. Probate costs with a Last Will and Testament may be abundant. Considering the Living Trust is not subject to probate court, there are no probate expenses. This encompasses assets contained other states likewise. Even though it does cost more to set up the Living Trust initially, it does a greater job of helping save costs for those assets placed within the trust.


Making the choice on which of these 2 legal instruments is right for you may best be done by speaking to an attorney. However, it is clear that while both instruments give you the means for establishing how your assets will be managed right after your passing, the Living Trust brings about significantly greater rewards. It may be developed and used while you live. It provides you a lot more control over the administration of your assets and allows you to identify a successor for the Trust when you are gone. It enables your assets and beneficiaries avoid probate court and its linked costs and its contents continue to be confidential.

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