Wills and trusts allow you to leave legally binding instructions regarding the division of your assets after you pass away. While both vehicles provide a significant amount of control over your belongings, they each have benefits for people in different financial situations. Understanding the difference between wills and trusts is the first step in ensuring your wishes are respected after you’re gone.
Writing a Will
A will is a relatively straightforward legal document in which you describe how your assets should be distributed after your death. In a will, you may also name an executor to handle your estate and nominate a legal guardian to care for your children if both parents pass away. However, a will does not allow you to set conditions on a beneficiary’s inheritance and gives you no control over what they do with their property after they take possession. Every will must go through probate, a legal process in which property is legally retitled and outstanding debts are paid.
Establishing a Trust
Instead of a single document, a trust is a separate legal entity that takes ownership of your property with a trustee that administers those assets on your behalf. When the trust is established, you may name another beneficiary who will take over after your death or leave instructions about how it should be dissolved. A trust also provides significantly more control over the distribution of your assets. For instance, you may require a child finish college before receiving their inheritance or have it distributed in installments rather than a single lump sum. Property held in trust does not have to go through the probate process, which could save your beneficiaries a substantial amount of time and money.
Whether you’re considering a trust or need to update your will, Gosselin & Kyriakidis, PC in Arlington, MA, has the expertise to guide you through every step of the estate planning process. This accomplished law firm focuses closely on elder law, so you’ll always receive in-depth legal advice from a professional who understands your needs. To learn more about wills and trusts and to schedule a consultation, visit their website or call (781) 782-6000.