More often than not it doesn’t occur to people to put together some end of life provisions and directions for their untimely death. It happens every day that someone gets in a car accident or suddenly takes a turn for the worse if they’ve been ill, and it is their families that are left to “put their affairs in order” as they say. This is difficult without a Trust in place and even more difficult without a will in place.
Defining Wills and Trusts
A will and a trust are separate legal documents that typically share a common goal of facilitating a unified estate plan. Since revocable trusts become operative before the will takes effect at death, the trust takes precedence over the will, when there are discrepancies between the two. A will is a legal document that spells out how you want your affairs handled and assets distributed after you die. A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which a trustor gives a trustee the right to hold property titles or assets for the benefit of a third party.
The Difference Between Wills and Trusts
The most significant difference between a Will and Trust is that Will’s must be probated after the person passes away, whereas Trusts are iron clad so to speak. Though they sound similar, a last will and a living will are two very different things that serve different needs. A last will details what you want to happen to your property after your death. A living will, sometimes called an advance directive, lays out the medical care you wish to receive under certain circumstances if you become incapacitated or unable to communicate.
If you pass away without a last will, also known as dying “intestate,” the state government where you reside decides what happens to your property and your dependent children. The laws that govern the probate process vary greatly from state to state. Probate is the legal process through which the court oversees how an estate will be distributed. If you signed a last will, your estate passes to the beneficiaries named. If not, your estate passes to relatives based on state law. Generally, a formal probate action is required if an estate includes real property. But in many states, probate isn’t required, and other legal remedies are available if the estate is of minimal value.
Putting together a Trust eliminates the financial and emotional toll on your family that probate causes. In some states, the probate process is relatively simple, and a last will is sufficient for many people’s needs. But in other states, the probate process can be expensive and time consuming, which makes a living Trust an appealing option, depending upon the size of your estate. Another thing that differentiates a Trust from a will is that it’s a legal document that states who you want to manage and distribute your property if you’re unable to do so, and who receives it when you pass away. Once signed, you transfer ownership of your assets into the Trust, and you remain in complete control of your property. The trust property can be managed and distributed without going through the probate court. Which will save your family a lot of turmoil and confusion, not to mention money, in the event of your untimely death.
Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Today
Since we know life can be unpredictable, and death even more so, it’s the responsible thing to do to take the time to talk to your loved ones about your end of life wishes and consult with a professional about your estate planning options. So that when the time comes all that your family has to do is mourn you and celebrate your memory. Contact an estate planning lawyer in Arlington, TX from Brandy Austin Law, PLLC as soon as you can begin planning your estate. He or she can help determine what the best fit will be for you and your family.