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The differences between wills and trusts in estate planning

For those who are planning their estates, it can be confusing to understand the terminology. For example, many are uncertain of the distinction between wills and trusts in estate planning. In Florida, as in other states, it is helpful to know the benefits of each.

There are a few primary distinctions between trusts and wills. For one, a will has to go through probate court, while a trust usually does not. The fees and costs of will and trusts vary, as do the types of assets that are managed by each. Wills take effect upon the maker's death, while trusts may be effective during the maker's lifetime and/or after death. 

When it comes to a will, the maker usually names an executor to handle the distribution of the deceased's assets. The assets that are controlled by a will are known as probate assets and include financial accounts, real and personal property that is in the name of the deceased. With a will, the court will make sure that all creditors and taxes have been paid before the assets are distributed.

With a trust, a person known as a trustee agrees to hold the property of the settlor for the beneficiaries. Assets which can be transferred legally, such as investments and real estate, are included in a trust. Assets passed on through a trust do not have to move through probate as those in a will.

These are just a few of the differences between a will and a trust. For anyone who is considering either or both in Florida, an estate planning lawyer can explain them, and help the client to decide how to proceed. The best way for a person to protect his or her loved ones in the future is to be informed in the present.

Source: lakeconews.com, "Estate Planning: The differences between a trust and a will", Dennis Fordham, Aug. 5, 2017

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