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What’s the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

The Difference

Wills and trusts are the principal legal instruments attorneys use to help clients transfer assets to their heirs. Although these documents serve a similar purpose, Trusts are managed while you are alive, while a will only goes into effect upon your death. In fact wills and trusts both have significant advantages and disadvantages. It is never too early to set up your estate planning; these tools are essential for protecting your assets. Our attorneys are prepared to answer your questions and draft an estate plan that protects your legacy. 

Trusts

Trusts are set up by an attorney and maintained while you are alive; therefore, less likely to be challenged. Trusts can provide tax incentives and a smooth, immediate transfer of assets upon your death. This allows your loved ones to avoid lengthy and costly probate. Trusts allow more control and flexibility than a will, where you can set parameters for the distribution of inheritances.

A trustee cannot act outside the parameters set within a trust, giving you peace of mind that you are still managing your legacy after your death. There are more than a few good reasons to set up a trust, call our office today the attorneys at Every & Stack will tailor a tax-advantaged strategy to protect your investments and minimize liabilities. 

Wills 

A will provides the blueprint for distributing your property, establishing care for children and expressing your wishes upon death. Unlike a trust, wills must go through the probate process to distribute assets to the beneficiaries. Wills are also a matter of public record, where trusts may remain private to those involved. Wills are less complex than a trust, and a simpler way to document your wishes. 

Pros & Cons

It’s important to note that you do not and should not choose one over the other. It may benefit you to have both a will and a trust. For example, if you have a minor child, trusts do not allow you to name a guardian; however, they can manage their assets and define specific parameters for inheritance. 

  1. Trusts are not subject to the probate process; wills are. 
  2. Trust proceedings are private, and wills are a matter of public record.
  3. Trusts are maintained and managed while you are alive; will only go into effect upon your death. 
  4. Trusts can provide tax benefits
  5. Wills allow you to name a guardian for minor children; trusts do not. 
  6. Trusts transfer immediately, while wills must go through the probate process before assets are distributed. 
  7. Trusts are set up by lawyers and are less likely to be challenged than a will

Every & Stack are Here to Protect Your Legacy

We recommend reviewing and updating your wills & trusts every three to five years or as needed, especially if you have any major life changes such as marriage, divorce, or birth of a child. 

The experienced attorneys at Every & Stack can advise you on the best ways to address your legacy concerns, including the transfer of financial and real property assets, estate tax avoidance, guardianships for minor children, and support for philanthropic causes. We will draft an estate plan that works for you and protects your legacy. 

Call today to schedule a consultation at our Daytona Beach office 386-255-1925, or contact us online. We serve clients in Daytona Beach and throughout Florida. 

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