Wills and living trusts are different estate planning vehicles, but with certain key differences. One major difference is that with a will, you have much less control over how your assets are distributed because probate court can disrupt the process. A living trust, if properly drafted and funded, can provide more control by completely eliminating the need for probating your estate.
Deciding which vehicle works best for you and your estate is a decision only you can make—but not until you’re armed with the facts in order to make an educated decision.
Another key benefit of a living trust is that it offers a plan for your estate after you pass and also a contingency plan while you’re alive, too.
Chances are, the longer you live, the more likely you are at some point to become incapacitated, either physically, mentally or both. For example, should you become mentally incapacitated, you are at a disadvantage for making major life decisions that will affect you and ultimately your family. By setting up a living trust, your decisions can be made, and preparations and plans can be carried out according to your wishes.
Also, should you pass away, your family isn’t trying to guess at what you would have wanted: they have it right there, in black and white.
Many people assume that a will protects their estate from going through probate. But a key difference between a will and a living trust is that a will does not protect your estate from going into probate because a will is not a legal transfer of your assets. The probate courts role is to:
- Determine the legitimacy of the will.
- Set up a time frame for paying off debt.
- Distribute assets.
Being knowledgeable about the various tools available to you in planning your estate is critical: the right information can save you and your family pain and suffering should you become incapacitated or pass away.
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