Is a Will or Trust Better?

Is a Will or Trust Better?

Estate Planning Attorney in St. Peters, Missouri

If you are starting the process of planning your estate, you probably already know what a will is. You may have also heard that an alternative to a will is a trust. If you are like most people, you are probably a bit confused about what is different about these two options. This simple guide will provide all the information you need to decide which is best for you. Whatever you decide, you should speak with an estate planning lawyer to get your will or trust set up.

Will Vs. Trust

While they do accomplish the same goal, a will, and a trust function very differently. You probably have a good idea of how a will functions. You essentially set it up, and it details who gets what portions of your estate in the event of your death. A will is designed specifically for distributing an individual’s belongings after death. A trust, on the other hand, can be used for this same goal, but it can also be useful for distributing a living person’s belongings or gifting items to individuals. When you set up a trust, you transfer your belongings to a trustee and set up any conditions you want. When these conditions are met, the belongings are transferred from the trustee to whomever you specified.

The Benefits of Each

There are benefits and downsides to both these options. Many people talk as if a trust is strictly better than a will, but there are some advantages to having a will that many people miss. The primary benefit of a will is that you can continue to use your possessions after setting it up. Conversely, after creating a trust, the possessions are in the care of the trustee, and you cannot benefit from them or use them. Additionally, wills are safer. If you can trust the trustee completely, you have nothing to worry about. However, it is inherently a little riskier to transfer your possessions to someone else, rather than keeping them yourself, no matter who that person is.

It is true that a trust offers a wide variety of benefits over a will:

  • Ability to set conditions on who, when, and how individuals receive items
  • Avoid paying estate taxes
  • Avoid possessions staying in probate for months or years

The best way to think of the will or trust decision is not that one is better than the other. Instead, think of them as two different options for planning your estate, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. An estate planning attorney in St. Peters, Missouri can tell you more.

Contact the Legacy Law Center for their insight into estate planning and the difference between wills and trusts.