Wills and Trusts

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Wills vs. Trusts: Defined

Let’s take a minute and define both “will” and “trust”:

Will. A will is a written document that is signed and witnessed. A will is considered a “death” document as it only goes into effect when you die.

A will:

●       provides for the distribution of assets owned by you, but not assets directed to others through beneficiary designations (e.g. life insurance or retirement benefits)

●       sends assets in your individual name or payable to your estate through the probate process

●       allows you to appoint permanent guardians for your minor children

●       names the person you wish to settle your estate (e.g. executor or personal representative)

●       doesn’t always include protective trusts for beneficiaries and tax planning because many wills are simple 2-3 page documents

●       permits you to revoke or amend your instructions during your lifetime

●       tends to cost less than a trust on the outset but costs more to settle during court proceedings after death

Trust. A trust is a legal document, signed and witnessed, and effective during your lifetime, during any period of disability, and after death. Because the trust is effective during your lifetime and you can change it, it’s referred to as a “living” document.

A trust:

●       has lifetime benefits

●       provides for the distribution of your assets

●       avoids probate if fully funded

●       provides for a successor trustee upon your death or incapacity

●       allows for the management of your property – even if you’re incapacitated

●       can address appointing disability guardians for minor children

●       often includes protective trusts for beneficiaries and tax planning

●       permits you to revoke or amend your wishes during your lifetime

●       costs more than a simple will on the outset but much less upon administration, while typically providing significantly more value

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Law Offices of Alfred Odom, P.C.

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