To many people, wills and trusts seem interchangeable. However, this is not the case. Wills and trusts differ in two distinct ways, and each is best suited for particular estate planning goals. Hiring an experienced Palm Beach County trust attorney can mean the difference in how successfully you protect your interests and your estate.
The key way in which wills and trust differ is in how they are handled:
Process — A will has to go to probate court, while a trust does not. As an executor of a will, you are required to file the will in probate court and transfer assets through the probate process. Trusts are not held to these same requirements. The successor of a trust is not required to go to probate court and does not need court supervision to transfer assets.
Privacy — Florida considers wills and other court documents public records. This means that when your will is probated, it becomes open for anyone to view. Trusts, on the other hand, do not become public records.
The choice between a will or trust really comes down to your needs and goals. Traditionally, wills are less expensive to create because they are easier to draft and are updated periodically throughout your lifetime after tax law changes and major life changes. Trusts are typically more complex because they involve the transfer of assets to the trust, the management of your assets during your lifetime and the distribution of your estate after your death. On the upside, trusts allow you to avoid the time and expense of probate court.
There is also the privacy issue to consider. If you prefer that your final wishes regarding your estate and beneficiaries remain confidential, a will is not the right option. A trust protects your privacy because the details of it do not become a part of the public record.
Ultimately, choosing the right estate plan — whether that is a will, a trust or some combination thereof — is best accomplished with the assistance of a seasoned Palm Beach County wills attorney.
Trust Bankier, Arlen & Snelling Law Group, PLLC for a trusts and wills lawyer in Palm Beach County