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Will vs Trust: What Does Your Estate Plan Need?

As we grow older, estate planning becomes more pressing with each passing year. Failing to properly organize your estate could leave your loved ones with a financial mess to sort out after your passing. By taking the time to plan your estate, you will ensure your loved ones won’t have to navigate a complicated situation as they work to properly distribute your assets. When planning your estate, there are a couple of options to consider, most frequently a will vs trust. Read on to learn more about the estate planning process and if a will or trust will better fit your needs.

Understanding Your Estate Planning Options

When it comes to estate planning, the two main tools used to ensure your assets are protected and handed down to your heirs after your passing are wills and living trusts. While the estate planning tools of wills and living trusts are similar, there are some key differences that you should be aware of as well. Check out more about a will vs. a living trust below.

What is a Will?

Essentially, a will-based estate plan is one of the most basic types of estate plans. A will is a simple document in which you write out what should happen to your property and additional assets after your death. In addition to delegating who will receive your property and assets, you can also use your will to do the following:

  • Name guardians for minor-aged children
  • Name an executor to your estate
  • Forgive any debts that you are owed
  • Make designation on how your remaining taxes should be paid

The main thing to note with a will is that the entire process is supervised by a court in a highly structured process known as probate. Probate is often a drawn-out and expensive process.

What is a Living Trust?

In comparison to a will-based estate, a living trust is quite a bit more detailed. Just like in a will, you will be able to state who should receive your property and additional assets upon your death. In addition, with a living trust, you can also do the following:

  • Appoint a trustee to manage and distribute property after your death — (This takes the place of an executor that is used in a will.)
  • Keep privacy after death — (Wills become public documents after death, but living trusts do not.)

Overall, the main feature of a living trust is that it ensures the inherited property does not have to go through probate. Not having to go through probate with help your heirs avoid the complicated and expensive process often associated with the probate process. However, it is also important to note that living trusts are more complicated to set up and maintain. Oftentimes, individuals will choose to have both a will as well as a living trust as those with minor-aged children cannot use a living trust to name guardians.

Will vs. Living Trust: What’s Right for You?

In the will vs. living trust matchup, most individuals choose to create a will. However, in addition to a will, some individuals will also choose to create a living trust. Ultimately, the need to create a living trust depends on a number of factors, including wealth, marital status, and age.

If you decide that a living trust is right for you, it is still a good idea to create a will and name an executor, name guardians for any minor-aged children, and delegate any assets or property that is not written in the trust. If you’re still on the fence about what type of estate planning tool will be the right option for your needs, it’s time to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney to consult on the options available to you.

When Should I Start My Estate Planning Process?

When it comes to estate planning, it’s always beneficial to start the process early. Accidents strike without warning. When disaster strikes, it is always good to have a plan of action in place, this includes already having a will drawn up and maybe even a living trust established. Having your estate documents in order is even more important if you have minor-aged children or a substantial amount of assets that will need to be divided among multiple heirs. Ultimately, it is in the best interest of your heirs to have your estate in order to avoid any complications after your passing.

Consultant with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today

When it comes to estate planning, the process can be challenging to navigate alone. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney will definitely be a worthwhile decision, ensuring that you make the best decisions possible for your estate. An experienced attorney will also reduce the chance of an error occurring in any of the essential documents you create during your estate planning process. For further guidance in your estate planning process, contact us today.


Author Bio

Paul Yokabitus

Paul Yokabitus is the CEO and Managing Partner of Cary Estate Planning, a Cary, NC, estate planning law firm. With years of experience in estate and elder law, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including estate planning, guardianship, Medicaid planning, estate administration, and other cases.

Paul received his Juris Doctor from the Campbell University School of Law and is a North Carolina Bar Association member. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Best Attorney in Cary” in 2016 and 2017 by Cary News and Rising Star in 2020-2023 by Super Lawyers.

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