Wills Vs. Trusts: What Is The Difference?
Before a person sits down to write their estate plan, they have usually heard the terms ‘will’ and ‘trust’ before. Still, not everyone knows the differences between these two terms. Wills and trusts are both important legal documents and while they do share some similarities, there are also some differences between the two. Below, our Volusia County wills and trusts lawyer explains further.
What are Wills and Trusts?
The foundation of most estate plans is a last will and testament. In a will the person who drafts the document, known as the testator, names the heirs they want to leave property to after they pass away. A will also names a personal representative who will administer the estate after the testator’s death. After a testator’s death, the person who has the original will must file it with the court. The court will then verify that the will is valid.
Trusts, on the other hand, are quite different from wills. People who create trusts are known as settlors and they transfer the title of certain types of property to a trustee. The trustee will control and oversee the assets for the benefit of the individuals named in the trust, who are known as the beneficiaries. Settlors can name themselves as the trustee. In these cases, the settlor can control the assets within the trust during their lifetime and distribution of the assets is still easier after their death.
How are Wills and Trusts Different?
A last will outlines property that is solely in the name of the decedent, and this property is subject to probate. Before a will is entered into probate, it must be approved by a probate judge. Property that is held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship and property that is held in a trust is not subject to probate.
After a will is filed with the probate court and a judge has verified that it is valid, the court will then determine if the person named as personal representative is qualified. If so, the court will then follow the provisions in the will and make sure the property is distributed accordingly. Assets within a trust can be distributed to beneficiaries without court intervention.
Due to the fact that will must pass through the probate court, they become public record and anyone can look up the details of the document. Trusts do not have to go through probate and so, they remain confidential. This is often important for people with larger estates or those who want to avoid challenges to part of an estate plan.
Our Wills and Trusts Lawyer in Volusia County Can Plan Your Estate
Estate plans can include many different components and it is important to know what they are, and which ones you should include in yours. At Bundza & Rodriguez, our Volusia County wills and trusts lawyer can outline your legal options and help you determine which ones are right for you. Call us now at 386-252-5170 or chat with us online to request a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.