Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Where there's a will ... should there also be a trust? And what's the difference?
Who needs a will? If you have children, positive net worth, and/or just want to leave clear instructions regarding your property and legacy -- and don't want to leave it to the state to decide who cares for your minor children or gets your stuff -- you need a will.
What about a trust? Wills and trusts are both part of a comprehensive estate plan and they do different things. Short answer - you should consider a trust if you have a taxable estate, own a home or other property (especially out of state), want to avoid probate and keep your estate private, have a child with special needs or a complex family situation, or want to possibly protect assets from creditors or others. Let's look here at one type of trust - the revocable living trust - and how it differs from a will:
A revocable living trust can direct what you want to have happen if you are physically or mentally unable to make your own decisions; a will cannot.
A will can appoint a guardian for your minor children; a trust cannot.
Unlike a will a trust must be funded - you need to transfer ownership of assets and property to the trust. (Note - living trusts are often set up in conjunction with a pour-over will, a catch-all that makes sure assets unintentionally left out of the trust are moved there after death.)
A trust's assets can be passed to beneficiaries immediately after death; a judge is not involved. Wills on the other hand require probate, a public process that takes time and costs money.
The estate plan that suits you best comes down to your personal situation and concerns. At the end of the day, remember that there's no one size fits all. Speak to an estate planning lawyer in your state about the right plan for you.
Where there's a will, there's confidence, security and a better night's sleep. With Woman's Compass Forum, you get information you can use to be proactive in meaningful ways. Do something today your future self (and the people you love) will thank you for.
This blog is for educational purposes. It provides general information but does not provide legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. It should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.