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Do You Need a Will and Trust in Your Estate Plan?

Posted on in Estate Planning

Do You Need a Will and Trust in Your Estate Plan?Your estate plan can contain several documents, including a will and a trust. Both wills and trusts serve the same primary purpose of ensuring that your assets are transferred to the people you intend after your death. Yet, having a will is not the same as having a trust. Should you create both a will and a trust, or is having only one of the two enough? Wills and trusts each have their own strengths and weaknesses in an estate plan, and it may be appropriate to have both depending on your circumstances.

What Are the Differences?

A last will and testament is a document that indicates your wishes following your death, such as:

  • Naming who will inherit each of your assets
  • Appointing someone as the guardian of your children
  • Giving instructions for your funeral

A will does not activate until after you have died. All assets that you include in your will must go through probate court, which can delay distribution to your beneficiaries and incur court and legal fees.

There are several types of trusts, but the one you are most likely to create in an estate plan is a revocable living trust. A living trust focuses on the transfer of assets with several important differences from a will:

  • You actively manage your trust while you are still alive.
  • You must transfer assets into the trust if you intend to distribute them.
  • Assets that are in a trust do not go through probate.
  • You can appoint someone who would manage your trust before your death if you become incapacitated.

Some people prefer distributing their assets through a trust instead of a will in order to avoid probate expenses and expedite the process. However, there may be more cost upfront in having to manage the trust.

Do You Need Both?

A trust is useful for holding your most valuable assets but may not be worth the expense if you are not going to actively manage it. An estate planning attorney can advise you on whether creating a trust is necessary for your situation. Creating a will is vital if you have children who would need a guardian if you died, whether it is because they are minors or you have a child with a disability. A trust cannot appoint a guardian for your children.

Contact a McHenry County Estate Planning Lawyer

Creating an estate plan is one of the most important ways you can help your loved ones after your death. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, estate planning attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you compose a will and/or trust. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.



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