Wills and trusts are both popular estate planning instruments, but they have distinct differences to consider. Here we'll examine the pros and cons of each, and when you may want to use them.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that outlines an individual's wishes for how their assets will be distributed after death, who should act as guardian for minor children, and who should act as executor of the estate. Wills are typically simpler and less costly than trusts.
What is a Trust?
A trust is a legal arrangement that can be established during a person's lifetime and can continue after their death. It enables a person to plan for their pre-death and post-death needs, manage assets in the event of incapacity, and have more control over the distribution of assets after death. Trusts can help assets avoid probate and keep information private, but are more complex and cost more than wills.
Pros of a Will:
- Specifies asset distribution
- Names guardians for minor children
- Designates estate executor
- Simple and less expensive
Cons of a Will:
- Limited control over asset distribution
- Assets likely to go through probate
- Probate and will details are public
Pros of a Trust:
- Greater control over assets
- Assets avoid probate
- Trust information is private
Cons of a Trust:
- More complex and expensive than a will
Can I Have Both a Will and a Trust?
Yes, individuals can have both a will and a trust Often individuals use a "pour-over will" in combination with a trust to move assets to the trust after their death.
Which One Do I Need?
The choice between a will or trust depends on individual circumstances and needs. Complex estates may require a trust, while simpler estates may only need a will. However, having a simple estate does not mean you cannot benefit from a trust. Consult with a lawyer to determine the best option for you.
Estate Planning with Heritage Law Office
For experienced guidance in estate planning, consider working with a qualified attorney. Heritage Law Office offers will and trust creation services and can help you make informed decisions and properly document your wishes. Contact us at 414-253-8500 or send us a message for more information and a consultation.