If you’ve spent any time planning out your estate, you’ve heard of wills and trusts. However, you might be a little confused about which is better for your situation. Every estate is different, and fortunately, every estate lawyer is ready and willing to help you understand what would be better for you and your loved ones.
As an estate planning lawyer, wills and trusts share many similarities, but they also have plenty of differences. They are both meant to ensure your last wishes are carried out according to your instructions, but how your last wishes are carried out differs significantly. Read on to learn a little more about wills, trusts, and how an estate planning lawyer can help you.
What is a Will?
At its simplest, a will is a list of beneficiaries and assets. The contents of a will – everything you’ve built up over the course of your lifetime, including collections, property, debts, and investments – will be divided up according to the instructions in your will, but this is where things get a little complicated.
A will means your beneficiaries will have to go through probate court. Probate is a long, frustrating, and complicated process. When you leave behind a will, unfortunately, your assets don’t just magically appear where you want them to go after your death. Your estate needs to be scrutinized by the court, all of your assets need to be valued, and any taxes or fees that come along with this process need to be paid as well.
It’s relatively straightforward to create a will, but probate can be a nightmare. It leaves your loved ones with plenty of opportunity to argue and contest the contents of the will, and every step of probate is another opening for more infighting and legal challenges. Probate can take several months, and that’s a very long time for your family to wait.
What is a Living Trust?
If a will is easy to make but hard to execute, a trust is the opposite. Like a will, a trust details your assets and your beneficiaries. Unlike a will, a trust is managed by a third party, and requires active management throughout your lifetime. You’ll need to update the trust whenever you add assets to be distributed after your death, hence the name “living trust”.
However, after your death, your family and friends will have a much easier time managing and distributing your estate according to your instructions. Unlike a will, a living trust completely avoids probate court. The terms of a living trust are set in stone and uncontestable, greatly reducing the possibility of infighting and drama amongst your loved ones.
As an added bonus, your trust can also help you avoid paying estate taxes. Estate taxes generally apply in very certain circumstances, but a trust grants you that important peace of mind (and a bit more money for your family and friends).
Get in Touch with an Estate Planning Lawyer Today
Wills and trusts can seem confusing at first, but it’s important to keep a level head and plan out your future with a qualified legal team at your back. It’s never too soon to start thinking about your future: Reach out to an estate planning lawyer at McCarthy Law, LLC for all of your residential real estate lawyer needs today.