Will vs Trust: What's the Difference?

When it comes to estate planning, two terms that often come up are "will" and "trust." While both are legal documents that help distribute assets after death, they have some key differences.

A will is a legal document that outlines how a person's assets should be distributed after they die. It can also include instructions for funeral arrangements, guardianship of minor children, and the appointment of an executor to manage the estate. A will only goes into effect after a person's death, and it must go through probate, which is the legal process of distributing a person's assets according to their will.

will vs trust

A trust, on the other hand, is a legal arrangement where a person, known as the "grantor," transfers assets to a trustee to manage on behalf of a beneficiary. The trustee is responsible for managing the assets and distributing them according to the terms of the trust. Unlike a will, a trust can go into effect immediately and does not have to go through probate. There are different types of trusts, such as revocable trusts, which can be changed or terminated by the grantor during their lifetime, and irrevocable trusts, which cannot be changed or terminated once established.

One of the main benefits of a trust is that it can help avoid probate, which can be a lengthy and expensive process. Probate can also make the distribution of assets public record, which some people may wish to avoid. A trust can also provide more flexibility and control over how assets are distributed. For example, a trust can include instructions for how assets should be distributed over time or for specific purposes, such as funding a grandchild's education.

Another benefit of a trust is that it can provide some protection against creditors and lawsuits. Assets held in a trust are generally not considered part of the grantor's estate, which can make them more difficult for creditors to reach. Additionally, a trust can include provisions to protect assets from lawsuits or other legal claims.

However, there are also some drawbacks to trusts. Setting up a trust can be more complicated and expensive than creating a will. A trust also requires ongoing management, which can involve additional fees and administrative tasks. Additionally, assets held in a trust may not receive a step-up in basis for tax purposes, which could result in higher capital gains taxes when the assets are eventually sold.

So, which is better: a will or a trust? The answer depends on your individual circumstances and goals. In general, a will may be sufficient for individuals with a smaller estate or simple distribution goals. A trust may be more appropriate for individuals with a larger estate or complex distribution goals, such as providing for a disabled child or protecting assets from creditors.

It's also worth noting that a will and a trust can be used together. For example, a person may use a will to distribute assets that are not held in a trust, while using a trust to hold assets that require more complex distribution instructions.

Ultimately, the decision to create a will or a trust should be based on a careful evaluation of your individual circumstances and goals. Consulting with an estate planning attorney can help you understand your options and make an informed decision. An attorney can also help ensure that your documents are drafted correctly and in compliance with state law.

In conclusion, a will and a trust are both important estate planning tools that can help ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. While they have some key differences, both can be effective ways to manage your estate. The best option for you will depend on your individual circumstances, so it's important to carefully evaluate your goals and consult with an attorney to make an informed decision.
@estateplanninguk What is better...a will or a trust? #estateplanning #willsandtrusts #assetprotection #trusts #probate #familylaw #inheritance #powerofattorney ♬ original sound - Mike Pugh

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