A piece of paper reading "Last Will and Testament" with a pen resting on top of it

The Differences Between Wills and Trusts

Knowing Before You Plan

As you work to plan your estate, you may be confronted with an important decision: should you include a will or a trust? Which is better for you? When planning your estate, it’s important to understand the differences between these two important documents and the benefits each one offers in order to provide your family with the best protection.

Wills

A living will (often simply referred to as a will) is a document that ensures that your wishes related to what family members receive what assets are carried through. A will is active upon your passing and is often more beneficial for people with smaller estates or estates with fewer complex assets. A few other key facts about wills include the following:

  • A will allows you to leave assets to a person who is not a member of your family, such as a friend or even a nonprofit organization.

  • With a will, you are allowed to name an executor who serves as the person who carries out your wishes regarding asset distribution.

  • You can name a guardian for your children in the event of your passing with a will.

Know, however, that having a will in place does not mean that your family will avoid probate. In fact, when your estate goes through the probate process, everything that occurs in that process will be considered part of the public record.

Trusts

A trust also manages how your assets will be distributed. A trust can either be revocable or irrevocable; a revocable trust can be changed at any time as the need arises, whereas an irrevocable trust cannot be changed once it is in place. In addition, a trust tends to be more beneficial to individuals with a higher level of assets that require distribution or a larger number of complex assets. A trust can provide great benefit to anyone with multiple properties across multiple states.

Trusts do not go through probate and have the benefit of privacy. What you include in your trust is not made part of the public record.

Consulting with an Estate Planning Attorney on What To Do

You may not be sure which option is better for you and your family’s needs. It’s important that you consult with an estate planning attorney to review your options and create an estate plan that matches your needs. Whether you need a will or a trust, the team at Johnson / Turner Legal is prepared to help you with your estate planning goals.


To learn more about our estate planning services or to schedule an appointment, call us at (651) 371-9117 or visit us online.

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