If you watch TV or read books, then you’ve often encountered wills. Wills, unlike trusts, are often presented in TV and books as something that causes friction between family members. To help you understand what wills are, this article will compare two common types of legal documents that are used in estate planning: wills and trusts. The goal is to help you better understand what each document does and when it should be used.
The Similarities Between Wills and Trusts
Before discussing the key differences between wills and trusts, it will be useful to learn some of the similarities between the two different types of legal documents.
Wills and trusts are both used in estate planning.
Wills and trusts are both used in estate planning. For example, a will outlines who will care for minor children (if you pass away having children who are minors). It also outlines what to do with belongings and who they should be given to. This outlining of “what goes to who” is similar to what trusts can do as well.
Wills and trusts require legal advice.
Both wills and trusts require legal advice. For example, a will requires someone who can fulfill the formal requirements as well as defining “what goes to who” after death. In the case of a trust, an experienced legal expert can ensure the documents are formally correct and accomplish your goals.
Both wills and trusts also come in many different forms. Wills can be modified and customized. When it comes to trusts, there are revocable, irrevocable, and testamentary trusts. Even more so than wills, trusts can be customized in numerous ways. You will need to consult with a legal expert to find out what type of will or trust is right for your situation.
Wills vs. Trusts: The Differences
Wills and trusts mayboth accomplish division and distribution of property but they are, nevertheless, different. Here are some key differences between wills and trusts.
Wills require a probate court; trusts do not.
For a will to take effect requires a probate court. Probate courts make sure that the will is complete according to state law. It also makes sure that debts and other loans have been paid off before distributing the deceased’s property according to his or her wishes. Even with a will, no one has authority to distribute assets or spend money until the probate court appoints the personal representative, also called an executor. If there’s no will in place, a probate court will follow state laws to appoint a personal representative and distribute the assets.
Trusts, on the other hand, do not require a probate court in order to take effect. Trusts can take effect immediately upon the creation, at death, or under various other circumstances. Trusts can be designed and customized to address your specific concerns, and accomplish your specific goals both for yourself and for your family.
Stevenson, Smith, Hood, Knudson P.C. Can Help You
If you’re not sure of the differences between trusts and wills, Stevenson, Smith, Hood, Knudson P.C. can help you understand these key differences better and determine which option is the best for you. Wills and trust come in different forms: you should have a knowledgeable attorney who can design an estate plan to meet your needs, whatever those may be.
For more information about wills and trusts, contact us at 801.821.5775. We’ll answer any questions that you may have. You can also contact us here.