Saturday, August 12, 2017

Wills and Trusts - What Are the Differences?

Both of these legal documents offer a way to distribute estate assets when a person dies but each are different in a variety of ways.


With a will, it is cheaper to prepare but it can be expensive to probate. In many jurisdictions, according to estate law, this is a legally binding document, which will allow you to give your assets to a designated beneficiary or beneficiaries. Unfortunately, this usually does not happen until after the person of the will dies. A will executor carries out the distribution of their assets. After the creator dies, the will must go through probate. During probate, the court will decide if the will is valid. Then the court will supervise the distribution of the assets. This can be a costly process because the assets can be subjected to estate taxes. When this is the case, an estate lawyer's services may be required.

With a will, one of the drawbacks is that they become public record after the creator's death so everything about the will is public knowledge. In order to manage the distribution of assets there will be a conservatorship or a power of attorney.


A trust is more expensive to prepare but when there is a trust, it will usually allow the beneficiaries to avoid any probate costs. After having a trust written it can take effect any time during a person's lifetime using a trustor to convey assets to the trustee to hold for the beneficiaries. When the creator dies, the probate is avoided. This is because the assets were transferred during the lifetime of the trustor. The trust will continue to function even after the trustor dies.

With a trust, it will usually remain private and allow the beneficiaries of the trust to maintain confidentially about the specific terms of the trust. Generally having a trust can provide more tax benefits. In some jurisdictions, they will allow for a certain amount of the trust assets to be passed on to the beneficiaries without requiring them to pay gift and estate taxes. Depending on any applicable trust laws, the tax perks available will vary from one jurisdiction to another jurisdiction.

In managing a trust, it can be done by a trustee or a trustor but will depend on how the trust has been set up. If the trustor manages the trust then he will usually specify who will manage it once he has died.

In conclusion

Looking at all the facts it appears that it is best if a trust is set up to distribute the assets instead of using a will. If you are uncertain talk to an estate attorney for legal advice as to which one you should set up for your particular situation.

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