The Difference Between Wills and Trusts

It’s important to have both a will and a trust in place to protect your loved ones. The difference between these mainly has to do with when they’ll kick into action. Although this is a basic explanation of these things, there are a few more nuances that you should understand.

What You Should Know About Wills

This is a document that states what you want to happen to your “small” assets (e.g., keepsakes, China collections, watches) once you die. Herein you’ll also document your funeral wishes. If you have young children, you need to have a will because this is where you’ll appoint guardianship for them if they’re minors. This is essential because without this document, the courts will make decisions for you. Even if someone were willing to step in at this point, it’d require a long, draining court process and potentially ongoing court oversight for it to happen.

If this is the only document that you have when you die, your family may find themselves having to attend probate court. Here they’ll find themselves engaged in a lengthy court process. This is designed to determine how your belongings are distributed and who will receive which of the different items you own. Unfortunately, this process isn’t only time-consuming, but it’s also costly since you’ll need to hire an attorney.

Probate court can also be somewhat shameful since everything is carried out in public. This is because when you die with only a will in place, someone must file the document with the court. At this point, anyone can access it, which means that they’ll know of any arguments or disagreements that occur as decisions may be made that family members don’t agree with.

It’s also important to remember that the financial cut-off limit for those things listed within this document is considerably low. While some estates may be able to manage only having this document in place, typically, this isn’t the case. Therefore if you truly want to avoid probate court, you’ll have a trust in place.

What You Should Know About Trusts

A living revocable trust will become effective immediately upon your death. While this sounds scary, remember that you can change anything anytime. You’re simply stating your desires for your big ticket items (e.g., house, property) now. Only when you become incapacitated or die will the trustee (the person you’ve appointed to oversee everything) can step up and follow these directions for handling your affairs. There isn’t any need for a court’s approval. Therefore everything will remain private as your trustee will immediately take over and carry out your wishes.

The Bottom Line

At the Blenner Law Group in St. Petersburg & Palm Harbor, FL, we firmly believe that you should have both a will and a trust in place for your loved ones. This is a powerful way to show that you care about them. Creating these documents will save your family time, money, and the heartache of squabbles when you die, so contact us to get your documents sorted out today.