To date in this 3-part series on the Difference Between Will and Trust, we have seen that wills provide a way to share your wishes, distribute property to beneficiaries, name an executor and guardian for minor children. We touched on probate, the process of validating a will, and how it can be a costly and very lengthy process. We talked about how family drama can facilitate the need for a trust in order to protect your wishes from being challenged in court. We looked briefly at the difference between a revocable living trust and irrevocable trust, as well as another key difference between will and trust, privacy. Remember, when a will is validated through probate it becomes a matter of the public record.
More on the Difference Between Will and Trust
Keep in mind, this series is meant to be a primer on the “difference between will and trust.” Please use what you find here to gain a general understanding of things and then seek legal advice from a trust and estate specialist in your area. Sure, you can go it alone and there are plenty of websites designed for those who do. Just know this… You have worked HARD for your money and seasoned trust and estate attorney, experienced in the intricacies of wills, trusts, and the myriad of documents used in solid estate planning, can see that your wishes are carried out and even save your estate money in the process!
What About the Children?
As you look at the difference between will and trust, remember that a trust is a fiduciary arrangement that deals with your assets; guardianship of minor children is something else altogether. In order name a guardian for your minor children, you need a will. You may also use a will to name a manager for property inherited by children under 18. If property is left to a minor child via a living trust, the trustee would manage the property until the child turns 18, and then act in accordance with the stipulations outlined in the trust.
Difference Between Will and Trust – Revisions to Each
If you have a revocable living trust or a will, things are not set in stone. Both allow for revisions when your circumstances or wishes change. In fact, there are certain times when you want to make certain that you update your documents! Revising a will and revising or adding a trust is especially important as major life changes occur. Things like birth/death, marriage/divorce, property purchase/sale, out of state moves and the like, are good reasons to revise or reconsider your documents. Especially if you move out of state!
Remember, laws can vary by state, so please check with a local trust and estate attorney to discuss your will or trust in the event that you change states. Like me, there is likely an attorney in your area who offers a Free Consultation – Ours is 30 minutes. Use this time to see if the attorney, preferably trust and estate specialist, is a good fit for your needs, and have some of your specific questions answered in the process.
TIP: When you have a list of questions ready to go you can cover a fair bit of ground.
To Will or Trust? That is the Question!
If you do not have children, have no major family drama, aren’t married and don’t own much property, you may be able to manage with just a will. Think of it this way, not everyone requires a living trust, but everyone should have a will! If you have additional questions about the difference between will and trust and which is right for you, I encourage you to look for an experienced trust and estate attorney. Or…
If you live in San Jose, Peninsula or South Bay Area, feel free to be in touch! I am simply a phone call or email away! You are welcome to print this Free 30 Minute Legal Consultation and use it to get some of your initial questions answered at no charge. I look forward to hearing from you.
This blog contains general information and is not meant to apply to a specific situation. Please seek advice of counsel before proceeding as each case is unique.