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What's the Difference Between a Will and a Living Trust?

difference-between-wills-and-living-trusts.jpgYou have worked hard throughout your life to accumulate the assets that you have during your lifetime, so it's only natural that should something happen to you (such as if you were to get ill or disabled) or if you were to pass away, that you would want to make sure that you maintain some control of those hard-earned assets. This is where estate planning can help.

When it comes to estate planning, there are two main types of legal instruments used-a Will and a Living Trust. Many people have heard of a Will, particularly as it is a term that is often times used throughout TV shows and movies. However, fewer people know what a Living Trust is or what the differences are between the two types of estate plans.

What is a Will?

A Will is a written document that is used to provide instructions on how your property and assets will be distributed at the time of your death. It is revocable, meaning that you can make changes to it at any point during your lifetime. In the event that you were to become ill, disabled or pass away, your assets are managed and distributed through a court-supervised process known as a Probate.

Also, should your Will not have someone named by you to be in a charge (what's known as an Executor) or someone to care for any minor children (a guardian), the Court is the one to decide who should be in charge for your estate and to care for any children you may have. Additionally, once your estate goes through the Probate Court, it becomes part of public record.

What is a Living Trust?

A Living Trust is a legal document that acts similarly to a Will, in so much that it is intended to provide instructions on how your property and assets will be distributed at the time of your death and it is also revocable and subject to amendment at any time during your lifetime. However, one of the major differences between a Living Trust and a Will is the benefits of management of your assets should you become ill, disabled or pass away. Unlike a Will, a properly drafted Living Trust plan can help you avoid the Probate process altogether. You will name a Successor Trustee to take charge in the event that you are unable to.

Is a Will or Living Trust Better for Me?

The answer to this question is like most answers. It depends.

Generally speaking, if you own a home (regardless of equity), a Living Trust is typically a better instrument to use because it helps to ensure proper distribution, management and preservation of your estate. It's the only estate plan vehicle capable of accomplishing all three of these goals. However, a Living Trust is a bit more expensive to set up and it may require some additional time, care and expense to keep it properly maintained and up-to-date. While the Will is typically cheaper to set up on the front end, the potential legal costs and headaches associated with having to go through the Probate process may not be worth the potential savings from setting up a Living Trust.

Understanding all the potential benefits and drawbacks and whether or not a Will or Living Trust is right for you is best determined by meeting with a competent, licensed and experienced estate planning attorney. The attorney can look at all of your particular circumstances and go over what options may be best for you.

If you are located in the Los Angeles or Orange Counties of Southern California, the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis can help. We have several offices throughout LA and Orange County. Having been around for over 35 years, the attorneys at the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis are experienced in the area of estate planning and have several attorneys on staff who are California State Bar Certified Specialists in this area. If you would like to schedule a free 90-minute consultation with one of our attorneys, attend one of our upcoming free Living Trust Seminars. You can also contact our main office at 1-800-756-5596.

If you are unable to attend an upcoming seminar, please feel free to join our e-mail list and we will be sure to e-mail you of future seminar dates.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc., servicing the estate planning needs of those in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas of Southern California for over 35 years. We recommend attending one of our free seminars, where you can book a free attorney consultation and even qualify to receive a fee discount. You can contact us at 1-800-756-5596 for more information. We'd also love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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