What is the Difference between a Will and a Trust?

Wills and Trusts are two different ways you can assure that your estate is transferred according to your wishes upon your death.

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that lays out how you want your assets to be handled and distributed after you die. A will is crucial to estate planning because if you die before creating a will you are said to have died “intestate”. The consequence is your assets will be handled and distributed according to Florida’s intestacy laws and these laws may not reflect your wishes for your assets once you have passed on.

If you have minor or adult children, something you may want to include in your will is how you will pass any portions of your estate on to them. In your will you could list your children as beneficiaries to assets in your estate. You may also detail how and when you would like these assets to be distributed to your children.

In your will you may also appoint someone as your Personal Representative. In Florida, a personal representative plays an important role in making sure an estate is properly administered. Whomever you appoint as your personal representative will have the duty to contact any potential creditors, settle claims of creditors, notify beneficiaries, resolve any disputes between heirs and beneficiaries of your estate, and closing the estate once it has been fully administered. Failing to prepare a will means that your personal representative will be chosen based on Florida’s state laws and this may not be the person who you would have trusted with handling your estate.

What is a Trust?

A trust is another method of transferring an estate. In a trust you give another party (“the trustee”) the authority to manage your assets for the benefit of your third-party beneficiaries. Although there are different types of trusts, a revocable living trust is primarily used for transferring an estate after death. This kind of trust is “living” because it is created while the trustor is alive and is “revocable” because may be changed by the trustor. Similar to a will, a trust is effective upon death and requires you to transfer property, after your death, to your loved ones.

A trust will also allow your property to be administered outside of the probate court. This will save your loved ones’ time and money, as family members often spend months in probate court trying to handle the estate of their loved one. The trustee named in the trust will be the person in charge of handling assets in the trust and controlling the distribution of assets in accordance with your wishes as stated in the trust document.

To learn more about how to create an estate plan, that will cover all your needs and make your wishes known, contact The Florida Estate Planning Law Firm, by e-mail or by calling our office at 305-384-3386. Our team of experienced estate attorneys can help you come up with an estate plan that will best serve your interests.

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