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Estate planning overview: A will versus a living trust

A will versus a living trust
A will versus a living trust

Estate planning can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to choosing between a will and a living trust.

Both serve the purpose of protecting and distributing assets to your loved ones, but they differ in what they include and how they’re managed.

A will empowers you and your loved ones in a variety of ways

A will is a legal document that outlines how you’d like your assets to be handled after your death.

Depending on the type of will, it can also:

  • Name guardians for dependents;
  • Designate a power of attorney; and,
  • Outline end-of-life healthcare decisions.

However, the primary function of a will is that it names a beneficiary and a trustee who’s responsible for distributing your assets.

A living trust has functions both before you pass and after

On the other hand, a living trust is a trust fund that holds your assets until a predetermined time.

Other characteristics of a living trust include:

  • Providing instructions for how your assets will be managed and distributed;
  • Naming both a beneficiary and trustee; and,
  • Allowing you to bypass probate court.

Also, unlike a will, assets in a trust can be distributed before you die.

Choosing between a living trust or a will comes down to need 

When deciding between a will and a living trust, consider your specific needs and circumstances.

A will may be better if you have minor children, specific end-of-life wishes, or want to name a power of attorney.

A living trust may be better if you want to avoid probate court, give beneficiaries access to assets while you’re alive, or avoid estate tax with an irrevocable trust.

Contrary to some commonly believed probate and estate planning myths, you may be in better shape to have both a will and a living trust.

Consult with an estate planning lawyer to determine the best options for your situation and make sure you’re in accordance with state laws.

Dishowitz Law knows probate law and can execute your will and your living trust.

Our team of attorneys understands and excels at handling the probate process—we work to help ensure that your loved one’s final wishes are fulfilled.

About Dishowitz Law

Dishowitz Law provides counsel to hundreds of individuals, families, and businesses involved in complex legal disputes, including estate planning, probate, estate disputes, general litigation, and landlord-tenant law. For more information or a free consultation, call (855) 236-3474, email, or visit