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What is a Trust and How Does it Differ from a Will?

What is a Trust and How Does it Differ from a Will

If you're planning your estate, you might be wondering whether you should create a trust or a will. Both documents are essential estate planning tools, but they serve different purposes. In this article, we'll discuss the differences between a trust and a will, the benefits of creating a trust, and how to determine which document is right for your needs.

Understanding Trusts and Wills

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that outlines how your assets will be distributed after you die. In a will, you can name an executor to manage your estate and distribute your assets according to your wishes. You can also name guardians for any minor children you have and make other provisions for your family.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal entity that can own assets and property. When you create a trust, you transfer your assets into the trust, and they are managed by a trustee of your choosing. You can name yourself as the trustee and continue to manage your assets as usual, or you can name another person or entity to manage them for you.

The Benefits of Creating a Trust

Avoiding Probate

One of the main benefits of creating a trust is that it can help you avoid probate. Probate is the legal process by which a court supervises the distribution of a deceased person's assets. It can be time-consuming, expensive, and public. When you create a trust, your assets are distributed according to the terms of the trust, not the probate court.

Control Over Your Assets

Creating a trust also gives you greater control over your assets. You can specify when and how your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries, and you can even set up provisions for how your assets are managed after you die.

Protecting Your Assets

Another benefit of creating a trust is that it can protect your assets from creditors and lawsuits. When your assets are in a trust, they are not considered part of your personal estate, so they may be protected from creditors seeking to collect on your debts.

Privacy

Finally, creating a trust can help you maintain privacy. Probate proceedings are public record, so anyone can access information about your assets and how they are being distributed. With a trust, your assets are distributed privately, without court supervision.

Which Document is Right for You?

The decision to create a trust or a will depends on your specific needs and circumstances. If you have a large estate or complex assets, a trust may be a better option because it allows you greater control and flexibility over how your assets are managed and distributed. If you have a smaller estate or simpler assets, a will may be sufficient.

Ultimately, the best way to determine which document is right for you is to consult with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you evaluate your assets, goals, and priorities, and create an estate plan that meets your specific needs.

Contact a Trust and Estate Planning Attorney

At Heritage Law Office, our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that protects your assets, minimizes taxes, and ensures that your wishes are carried out. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our estate planning services. You can reach us either online or by calling us at 414-253-8500.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the main difference between a Trust and a Will?

The main difference between a trust and a will lies in how they handle the distribution of your assets after your death. A will is a legal document that outlines how your assets will be distributed after your demise and names an executor who will carry out these directions. A trust, on the other hand, is a legal entity that holds and manages your assets during your lifetime and beyond. The assets in a trust are managed by a trustee and are distributed to beneficiaries as per the terms of the trust, bypassing the probate process.

2. Can a Trust protect my assets from creditors and lawsuits?

Yes, a properly constructed trust can offer protection against creditors and lawsuits. When you transfer your assets to a trust, they're no longer considered part of your personal estate. As such, they're generally beyond the reach of creditors who might want to collect on your personal debts. However, the degree of protection provided depends on the type of trust you establish. It's recommended to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure the best protection for your assets.

3. How does a Trust help in maintaining privacy?

Trusts can provide privacy that wills cannot. When a will is executed, it goes through the probate process, which is a public procedure. This means that anyone can access records relating to your assets and their distribution. However, trusts do not go through probate, and the distribution of assets through a trust is done privately, without court supervision or public records.

4. What are the benefits of avoiding probate through a Trust?

Avoiding probate is one of the major advantages of creating a trust. Probate is a court-supervised process for the distribution of a deceased person's assets which can be time-consuming, expensive, and public. By creating a trust, your assets are distributed according to the terms of the trust, not through the probate court, allowing a quicker and more private distribution of your estate.

5. Should I choose a Trust or a Will for my estate planning needs?

The decision between a trust and a will depends on your individual circumstances, needs, and the complexity of your estate. If you have a large estate or complex assets, a trust may provide greater control, flexibility, and protection. If your estate is smaller or simpler, a will may suffice. It's best to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to understand which document would better serve your needs and goals.

Contact Us Today

For a comprehensive plan that will meet your needs or the needs of a loved one, contact us today. Located in Downtown Milwaukee, we serve Milwaukee County, surrounding communities, and to clients across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and California.

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