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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Sep 18, 2015

The concept of a will has been around for a long time, and most people understand it. Not quite as many people are familiar with a living trust, and very few would be able to explain the differences between the two. They’re both useful estate planning tools that can work together to develop a complete estate plan. Here’s a deeper look at what they do.

Will

In essence, a will provides for the distribution of the property that you own at the time of your death. In general, you can do whatever you wish with your property. However, there are certain assets that are not covered by a will, such as property titled in joint names with rights of survivorship, life insurance payouts, retirement plans and accounts, and employee death benefits. A will also does not include property that has been transferred to a trust. Here are some items that the proper use of a will provides for:

  • To designate a guardian for your minor child or children if you are the sole surviving parent.
  • You may designate an executor of your estate in your will, and eliminate their need for a bond.
  • If you are acting as the custodian of assets of a child or grandchild, you may designate your successor custodian.

Living Trust

A trust means that property is held by a trustee, which may be a person, a group of people, a trust company or a bank. The trustee is the legal owner of the trust property and beneficiaries of the trust are the equitable owners of the trust property. A person can be both a trustee and a beneficiary of a trust. A trust created during your lifetime is called a living trust. The provisions of the living trust will determine what happens to the property in the trust in the event of your death.

The biggest difference between the two is that a will passes through probate, while a trust does not. That means that the court gets involved in the administration of the will and ensures the will is valid. Since a trust is not a personal asset of the deceased, it passes outside of probate.

Both of these tools are useful, but perform different functions. Even if you only have a small amount of personal assets, it’s best to speak to an experienced estate attorney about the best ways to make sure your assets go to the beneficiaries that you choose. Talk to Maricopa Lawyers today.