There are several characteristics of a trust that a Will is not able to do. For example, A Revocable Living Trust is valid and works during the grantor’s life. The grantor is the person who creates the trust. A Will is only valid when the testator (the person creating the Will) dies.
Thus, a Trust works during the person’s incapacity while the will only transfers property to the beneficiaries when the person dies.
A trust designates who can continue to manage your assets and how to do so (all by your specifications). So, yes, you continue to control (manage and direct), care, and protect your loved ones and the assets you leave them even after you pass away. A Will only transfers the assets to the beneficiaries and thereafter they can do with what you left as they please (including throwing your hard-earned money away).
The trustee (the person you choose to manage your trust) must follow your instructions and has to continue to manage things as if you were doing it yourself. This is true if you become incapacitated or just because you have decided to delegate your responsibilities and have someone else handle your affairs.
Assets inside the trust can be managed without the need of a Power of Attorney (during your life time). This may also avoid a Guardianship. A Will has no protections during your life time. Remember, a Will is only effective once you have passed away.
A trust transfers property upon death without the need of a probate. Property that is properly titled under the trust will pass outside the court process called probate. Meanwhile a Will does Not avoid Probate. It has to go through the court process called Probate.
Thus, a trust administration is private. It takes place in the privacy of your attorney’s office while a Probate case is a public case opened in Court and it is a matter of public record. This means, anyone can read your Will after you die and know who and what your family is receiving. This opens doors to predators, scams, and more.
Thus, for most, a trust-based plan is a more functional and desirable plan. It is an investment that can save money in the long run, but it will sure save in headaches during your life time and beyond.
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Yahima Suarez, PA
Life Planning And Beyond