What is a will? What is a trust? How does one differ from the other? Which one do I need? Rightly so, there is a fair amount of confusion concerning wills and trusts. While there is no standard one-size-fits-all approach, understanding each document can help determine the best fit for your family.
A will is designed to instruct the probate court of your wishes on how you want your assets distributed. You can name individuals, charities, or any legal entity to receive an amount or percentage of your assets. From a cost perspective, a will is relatively inexpensive to set up on the front-end.
One drawback of a will is that it must go through probate, prior to any distribution of assets to beneficiaries. Probate involves extra costs, delays and formalities required by the court. The process typically costs several thousands of dollars and takes months or years.
So, how does a trust differ? A trust avoids court intervention and allows your assets to be distributed outside of the probate court. This allows for direct distribution of assets, no court formalities and limited or no attorney fees. A trust, however, is often more costly to prepare than a simple will.
A trust can also offer unique protections for beneficiaries that a will cannot. A trust can specify when, how much and for what purpose a beneficiary can receive assets. For example, a trust may designate that a beneficiary can receive 1/3 of their share at age 25, 1/3 at age 30, and the remainder at 35. Under a simple will, a beneficiary will receive their entire share outright unless they are a minor. This is just one of many unique legal protections trusts offer.
As with any choice there are positives and negatives to consider. A will is not for everyone. A trust is not for everyone. Discuss your goals, your specific family situation, and your concerns with your attorney. Only after weighing these factors can you achieve the best choice for you and your family.
To find out what whether a will or a trust is right for you, considering signing up for a complimentary Life & Legacy Planning Session with one of our attorneys. We will walk through your goals and objectives to find out what is right for you! Click here to sign up for this complimentary appointment today!