Determining Which is Best for Your Estate
Few people know the difference between a will and a trust, and even fewer understand why they would need one or the other. While both wills and trusts have similarities, they also have significant differences that can have a large impact on estate planning. This blog will explore those similarities and differences in greater detail to help you determine which option is best for you.
The Basics of Wills in Estate Planning
A will is a document that sets out a person's wishes to distribute their property after they die. It must be signed and witnessed to be valid, and it can be revoked or changed at any time. A will appoints an executor responsible for carrying out the deceased's wishes, and it can also name a guardian for any minor children.
The main advantage of a will is that it allows the testator (the person making the will) to have complete control over their estate. They can choose who receives their property and how it is distributed and make special provisions for specific individuals or charities. A will is also relatively straightforward to change, which makes it a good option for those who want more flexibility in their estate planning.
The main disadvantage of a will is that it does not take effect until the person dies. If there is a dispute between beneficiaries, the courts must sort it out. It also means that the estate cannot be distributed until after the funeral, which can cause delays and additional expenses.
The Basics of Trusts in Estate Planning
A trust is a legal arrangement where the property is held by one person (the trustee) on another person's behalf or group of people (the beneficiaries). The trustee has a legal obligation to manage the property in the best interests of the beneficiaries and can be appointed by the testator in their will or during their lifetime. Trusts are often used to protect assets from creditors or provide income for beneficiaries who cannot work.
The main advantage of trusts is that they can be set up during the testator's lifetime, which gives them immediate access to the property. This can be especially useful for those with large estates who want to avoid probate fees. Trusts are also less likely to result in disputes between beneficiaries, as the trustee has a duty to act in everyone's best interests.
The main disadvantage of trusts is that they are more complicated than wills and require ongoing management from the trustee. They also tend to be more expensive to set up and maintain.
Work With an Estate Planning Attorney
Determining whether you need a will, a trust, or a combination of the two in your estate plan can be confusing. It's important to discuss your situation with an estate planning attorney to determine the best course of action. Law Offices Of Mark M. Childress is ready to help you plan your estate for the benefit of your loved ones.
Learn more about how we can help with estate planning or schedule a consultation by calling (817) 497-8148 or visiting us online.