How are Wills and Trusts Different?

Estate Planning Norton Shores Attorney

If you are getting ready for retirement, you’ll want to make sure you have a comprehensive estate plan in place (if you don’t already have one).

What an estate plan does is make sure that your property is distributed according to your final wishes. While an estate plan can include a will or revocable trust, you’ll want to know the differences between these estate planning documents. Continue reading to learn the differences between wills and trusts and the importance of hiring an estate planning attorney early in the process.

How are Wills and Trusts Different?

What is a Will?

Over a lifetime, you are bound to have several properties and assets that will need to be addressed in your last will and testament. Keep in mind that an asset can be anything from your house to the diamond earrings you have in your jewelry box. A legal will is a document that directs how you want your property and personal possessions to be distributed to loved ones after your death. You may also choose to make a will to name a guardian for minor children.

Writing a will is important because it will prevent disputes over your property once you have passed away. Without a legal will, it becomes too easy for family members to start taking your belongings with the justification of “they would want me to have this.”Any assets in the will are subject to probate proceedings. This means that the court will make sure the will is valid and is carried out according to your final wishes.

To carry out your will, you’ll need to appoint a legal representative. Be sure that whoever you choose is responsible, trustworthy, and competent. The best way to prevent family conflicts after your death is to put a lot of thought into who you appoint as the executor of your will. Make sure you also appoint a backup legal representative in the event the original person is unable to perform their duties. An estate planning lawyer can help you through this process.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal arrangement that requires you to name a trustee and beneficiaries for your assets. A trustee is a third party responsible for managing your assets and distributing the benefits of the trust to beneficiaries. Many people choose to do a trust over a will because it allows them to avoid the costs of probate. Unlike wills, which are a matter of public record, trusts can also be kept private.

To learn the benefits of different types of trusts (such as a living trust) we recommend scheduling an appointment with an elder law attorney near you. They’ll be able to answer your questions so you can feel confident about how your property will be distributed after you pass away.

Our Norton Shores estate attorney will be able to help you determine what legal documents are needed for your estate. To schedule your consultation with elder law attorney, Douglas H. McPhail, call (231) 799-4994.