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Wills and trusts can be complementary to one another

The sheer number of estate planning options Moorestown residents have may be overwhelming. Deciding whether to include a will, one of the many varieties of trusts, health care directives and powers of attorney can be confusing. However, a comprehensive estate plan can include many of these documents -- it need not be an "either/or" situation. Today, we are going to take a look at wills and revocable living trusts, to see how these two documents compare.

A will is a legally enforceable document that allows the creator of the will to dictate how his or her assets are handed to his or her heirs. It becomes effective once the creator of the will dies. An estate executor, who will ensure the will is carried out properly, can also be named in the will itself.

One advantage to a will are that wills can include provisions regarding who should be the guardian for any minor children, which trusts cannot do. One disadvantage to a will is that it has to go through the probate process, which can be a lengthy endeavor.

A trust, on the other hand, is a document that holds the creator's assets for another person, known as the beneficiary. A trustee manages the trust assets. Revocable trusts can be changed during the lifetime of the creator of the trust. Living trusts take effect immediately after they are executed. Assets can be moved to the trust, or removed from the trust.

One advantage to a trust is that, unlike a will, trusts do not go through probate. A trust can also have provisions regarding how the creator's finances should be managed, which cannot be done with a will. A trust can also have provisions that dictate the management of assets left to minors. One disadvantage to a trust is that, for it to be effective, property must be transferred into it, while the creator of the trust is still alive that can be a complex process.

In the end though, many people benefit from having both a will and a living trust. Since each of these documents have unique aspects to them, they can be complementary to one another. An estate planning attorney can help explain to Moorestown residents the benefits to having a will and a trust to understand their options.

Source: The Jewish Voice, "Will vs. trust: Is one better than the other?," Barbara Kenerson, Dec. 23, 2016

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