What is The Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

We have all heard the terms “Will” and “Trust” when people discuss preparing written and signed documents which tell their loved ones how they want their final affairs and property distributed after their death.  Not everyone knows the difference between a “Will” and a “Trust”. Both are documents that are estate planning documents and they can be used together to create a complete estate plan.

A Last Will and Testament, often referred to as simply a “Will”, goes into effect after the person who signed the Will has passed on.  The Will directs who receives your property upon your death. The Will also appoints an individual to be the representative of your estate who will see to it that your final wishes are carried out after your death.  A Will covers any property that is only in the name of the signer of the Will when that person dies. A Will does not affect any property that is held jointly with another person, or in a Trust. A Will passes through probate and the Court will oversee the administration of the Estate.

A “Trust” can be used to begin distributing property before, at or after death.  It is a legal arrangement in which one person appointed as a “trustee” holds legal title to property of the person signing the trust. The property is held for another person, called the beneficiary.   A Trust often has two types of beneficiaries:

  1. One who receives income for the trust during their lifetime; and
  2. One that receives what is leftover when the original beneficiary of the trust dies.

Unlike a Will, a Trust does not pass through probate and therefore the Court does not oversee the distribution under the Trust.  A Trust does not become a matter of public records.

Both Wills and Trusts have their advantages. The need of a Will alone, or with a Trust, depends on a person’s assets and how they wish their assets to be distributed either before or after their death.

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Having a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney prepare a Last Will and Testament or a Trust for you, or for you and your spouse individually, will save your loved ones money and grief, in addition to giving the peace of mind that the things that were most dear to you and distributed to your loved ones in the way that you intended.

Need a Will, Trust or other estate planning documents prepared?  Golden Key Law Group is ready to help. We offer estate planning services including preparations of Wills, Trusts, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directives. If something happens to you, make sure that your family and loved ones are not left with the added burden that results from there being no Last Will and Testament. Contact Golden Key Law Group, your “family” lawyer, at 727-317-4738 to schedule a consultation with founding partner attorney Charis Campbell, or attorney Rita Briles.