When you begin the estate planning process, wills and trusts are probably the first terms you’ll encounter. However, many trusts and estates lawyers spend time teaching their clients about their specific definitions, and what makes them different. Here’s what to know about these estate planning documents.

Wills

When drafting a last will, you can make arrangements for the contents of your estate, such as your home, vehicles, and savings accounts. This way, you can leave each asset to a specific friend, relative, or loved one.

Once you pass away, the will enters the probate process, and the court must authenticate the document, or ensure that it is valid. After this period—which can take a few weeks or months—the assets will be distributed according to your wishes. At this time, the will becomes part of the public record.

Wills are also crucial for naming guardians for your children. This is one of the few tasks you can’t complete with a trust alone.

Wills are also the only way to account for the items you don’t specifically allocate to certain beneficiaries. Instead of going through all your belongings, simply write a catch-all clause, such as one that donates the remainder of the estate to a specific charity.

Trusts

trust and estatesThese estate planning documents are like containers for your assets. Instead of listing items in a will, you put them “into” a trust, and the trust can be transferred to a new individual once you pass away. You can use trusts to set terms for a person’s inheritance, such as if you want to leave your child the family home once they turn 25.

Unlike wills, trusts don’t need to go through the probate process, so the beneficiaries receive their assets right away. As a result, the contents of a trust remain private.

Many people use trusts and wills together. For example, while you need to name a guardian for a child in a will, you can use a trust to leave them a house or a savings account. A trust can also be used to leave money to a pet’s new owner or a disabled child’s new guardian.

 

To learn more about trusts and estate planning essentials, reach out to Pirrello, Personte & Feder, PLLC, Attorney at Law. For over 50 years, they’ve provided reliable and expedient service to clients throughout Monroe County, NY, and the surrounding counties. They’ll help you make arrangements for the unexpected and leave a legacy for your family. Learn more about their team of attorneys online, or call (585) 544-7090 to schedule a consultation for your trusts and estates needs.

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