It’s inevitable: That fateful decision of where to dispose of your assets in the safest way so they will be protected for your family once you’re gone. Most people think that a will is all they need but a living trust (also referred to as a revocable trust) is just as necessary.
A will is a legal document that directs the disposition of your assets after your death. Having a valid will makes the probate process, the distribution of your assets, go more smoothly than if you didn’t have a will. Also, in a will, you can name a guardian for your children.
A living trust is a legal document that becomes valid when you execute the documents and your property is transferred into it. You, as the grantor and trustee, manage the assets while you are alive and then they are passed directly to a trustee of your choice upon your death without involving probate.
Although you can’t name a guardian for your children in a living trust, you can choose someone to manage assets set aside for a specific beneficiary until they are older. As discussed below, you can execute a will in conjunction with your living trust, under which you can name a guardian of your children.
The main difference between the two documents is that a will takes effect only after your death while a living trust becomes valid as soon as it is duly executed and assets are added—that is, during your lifetime.
Haas & Zaltz, LLP will help you decide which legal document is the best for your situation. Another thing we can do is help you determine whether you want to set up an irrevocable trust.