Wills and Trusts are both legal documents that protect an individual’s final wishes regarding how his personal property will be distributed in the event of his death, and are a common part of elder law. While both documents are similar in nature, there are differences in the details that most people should have a thorough understanding of before deciding which one best suits their situation.
Individuals Can Manage Their Affairs With Living Trusts
Living Trusts are used to manage any property and assets that an individual owns during their lifetime. These can be altered at any time during the lifetime of the person that created the trust and will only become final in the event of their death. These documents are commonly drafted by lawyers who specialize in elder law.
The individual that is creating a trust has the ability to manage his own trust as long as he is deemed to be mentally and physically competent. In the event that this person is no longer willing or able to manage his own Trust, a previously chosen Trustee is granted permission to make all decisions from this time forward.
Living Trusts are not subject to probate proceedings and courts will not automatically supervise disputes among beneficiaries. There are no public records for trusts, and the details remain private.
Trusts often cost quite a bit more to prepare and manage, but the savings will be apparent when the estate is not subjected to probate proceedings.
Wills Are An Economical Option For Many People
Wills are legal documents that have been drafted by estate planning attorneys and allow individuals to designate specific beneficiaries that will inherit specific property. Wills are often used in conjunction with a Living Trust, serving as a dictation for dispensing any assets that were not included in the Living Trust.
In the event that a Will has protected an estate, the property will have to go through the probate process. While Wills are legally binding, they are still subject to probate proceedings. The terms within the Will that have been set forth by the individual who had it drafted may be viewed by the court as a list of suggestions rather than a set of instructions. The court makes the final decision regarding all final wishes. The probate proceedings include any and all disputes that are filed by beneficiaries and creditors.
If an individual chooses to draft a Will, they must also have a designated power of attorney or conservatorship to manage their property and assets. In addition to requiring another appointed position, they may also cost more money in the end. Initially, Wills cost less than trusts, but the money it takes to go through the probate process can end up costing the beneficiaries more money than the original grantor saved by opting out of a Living Trust.
Estate Planning Attorneys Can Determine What Is Right For Their Clients
By having estate planning attorneys carefully analyze each situation before drafting these documents, many people can avoid situations in which their inheritance is the subject of a dispute. Special needs lawyers in Smithtown, NY are experienced in guiding their clients through the legal system, and hiring them may be the best step in preventing litigation attorneys from moving in to dispute the validity of their final wishes.
Seeking the advice of estate planning attorneys as to which documents should be used to represent the best interests of both the client and their loved ones is an important aspect of planning for the future. Wills and Trusts should always be prepared by a legal professional in order to minimize the chances of conflicts arising due to misinterpretation.