The Difference between a Trust and a Will

People often get trusts and wills confused when it comes to getting proper legal documentation. While most people may be aware of the two terms, they may not, however, be aware of the differences between them. While both are useful devices for planning estates in the event of a death, both serve entirely different purposes. One cannot replace the other. So, if you are in search for a will and trust lawyer in St. Petersburg FL, it’s important that you understand these differences.

The main distinction between a will and a trust is when they are enacted. A will only goes into effect after you have died, while a trust activates upon creation. This is important because of what they both mainly do: a will directs who receives your property in the event of your death, whereas a trust can be used to distribute your property before, during, or after death. This makes a trust ideal for, say, those with terminal illnesses, who could die at any given time.

A will only covers property that is in your name, and your name alone. It does not cover any property held in a trust or a joint tenancy.  On the other end of the spectrum, trusts only covers property that you have transferred personal to the trust. And in order for you to do that, you must put the property in the name of the trust.

Trusts and wills both have good points and bad, which is why it might be best to have your lawyer set you up with both. A will lets you designate a guardian for the deceased person’s children, and to setup whatever funeral arrangements are needed. A trust does not allow you to do this. A court oversees the administration of a will, and not a trust, but that means a trust remains private, off public record, and going around the courts saves you time and money. Talk to your attorney about how to best utilize these two documents to ensure safe passage when you finally pass on.


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