There are many different ways to prepare for your future with your estate planning attorney. There are many different types of documents, plans, and decisions that you have to make when deciding how you want to distribute your estate. When looking at the options and deciding what estate plan is best for your situation, you may find yourself wondering: what is the difference between a will and a trust? How do I decide which is best for me?
There isn’t just one type of will or one type of trust. It depends upon your personal situation, so it could look different for everyone. However, there are a few key differences that you want to make sure you take note of when you are making your decision.
One of the biggest differences between a will and a trust is that a will in California does not avoid probate. A will can settle a dispute as to how an estate will be distributed, but it will still have to go through the lengthy and often expensive probate process.
A trust, on the other hand, avoids the probate process, which can be especially beneficial if you choose to title your home, vehicles, or other assets into a trust.
Although a will itself cannot avoid probate, a will can help you avoid probate if a title company makes a mistake. For example, if you intended to title your house into your trust but the title company does not follow through renaming the house, a will can protect your assets and intentions and prevent you from having to go through probate because of the mistake.
Another huge difference is how a person can nominate a guardian for any minor children they have. A trust cannot nominate a guardian in any way. If you have children of minor age, it is important that you use a will to name their guardian in the case of unexpected events.
A trust can rename your assets with a designation to your children, but your trust cannot establish a guardian for your children.
A person will almost always need both a will and a trust. These two documents work hand in hand in distributing your estate, nominating a guardian, and establishing control of your assets. Anyone who owns a home in California will need to have a trust to title their home in. Very rarely will a person only need a will: unless they own a very modest estate, or do not own a house, you will almost always need both a trust and a will.
Everyone’s estate plan will be different, depending on their personal needs and circumstances. Although decision making regarding your estate plan can be confusing and daunting, remember that your estate planning attorney is there to help you remember the differences between each document, and help you decide the best solution for your situation. Schedule a callback to talk more with me about what plan might be best for you!