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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Living Trusts Versus Wills

You may be curious what the difference is between a Will and a Living Trust.  Depending on your situation and needs, one may be a better fit.  In this article, we will highlight the major differences between the two to help you navigate the Estate Planning options.

A Will allows you to name beneficiaries who will receive your assets upon your death.  You have the opportunity to express your wishes and ensure that your wishes are honored.  Some prefer the simplicity of signing a Will and not having to think about it again.  However, the downsides to a Will are your loved ones must undergo the probate process along with its court expenses, delay and lack of privacy.

Like a Will, a Living Trust is a legal document that provides for the management and distribution of your assets after you pass away.  However, a Living Trust has certain advantages when compared to a Will.  A Living Trust allows for the immediate transfer of assets after death, avoiding probate at a time when your loved ones are grieving.  A Living Trust also allows for better management of your affairs in case of incapacity compared to only powers of attorney, providing immediate access to funds to pay your expenses and avoiding the risk of an intrusive guardianship process if powers of attorney are not honored by your financial institutions.

You may be asking yourself, “How does a Living Trust work?”  A Living Trust is a revocable trust that holds legal title to your assets and provides a mechanism to manage them.  You would serve as the trustee and beneficiary of your trust during your lifetime. You also designate a successor trustee to carry out your instructions concerning how you want your assets managed and distributed in case of death or incapacity.  You remain in control of your assets during your lifetime, have them managed by the person you choose during your incapacity, and then efficiently and privately transfer them to your loved ones at death according to your wishes.

Regardless of the estate planning vehicle you choose, protecting yourself in disability and providing for your loved ones upon your death eases the burden on everyone.

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