Wills and living trusts are both crucial elements of estate planning, but do you know what the differences are between the two? And do you know which one is best for your situation? These are common questions, and the best way to get them answered is to talk to a North Carolina estate planning or estate administration attorney. Keep reading to learn how a lawyer from Mullen Holland & Cooper P.A. can assist you with your estate-planning needs.
Wills vs. Living Trusts
Wills and living trusts are both important tools to outline your last wishes and how your assets should be disbursed after you die. However, there are crucial differences between wills and living trusts, and it’s important to know what these are when you’re making plans for your estate.
When it comes to estate planning tools, wills are the simpler and (in some ways) easier alternative to trusts. A will lets you designate guardians for any minor children or pets you have, outline how you want the assets from your estate to be distributed, and state what you want to happen to your body after you die. A will cannot go into effect until after you die, and it will generally need to be validated in probate court before any assets can be distributed.
Living trusts may be more complicated than wills, but the trade-off is they give you much greater flexibility for what you can do with your estate. Living trusts may go into effect as soon as they’re created and funded, giving you control of your assets even while you’re still alive. If they’re created correctly, a living trust generally lets your beneficiaries avoid the time and expense of probate court.
Which One Is Better?
There are pros and cons to both wills and living trusts, and which one is “better” depends greatly on your individual circumstances.
Wills are relatively simple compared to trusts, for both better and worse. You can’t do as much with a will, and they can’t go into effect until after you die, but they’re also easier to draft. If you don’t have complicated assets or extensive assets to worry about, a will may well suit your needs. An estate planning attorney can help you draft a will to help ensure your plans are honored.
On the other hand, living trusts are more complicated but are much more powerful, flexible tools. You and your heirs will be able to keep more of your assets by utilizing a living trust, and your beneficiaries may pay less in certain taxes, helping them keep more of what you’ve earned during your life. Trusts also give you many more options for how you want to disburse your assets.
Lastly, a trust can go into effect immediately after it’s signed and funded, which may be what you’re looking for. The main drawback to trusts is that they’re complicated legal instruments, so you’ll want help from a lawyer who knows all of the rules involved.
Can You Have Both?
The short answer is yes, though because wills and trusts work in different ways and do different things, you want to be sure they work in tandem to accomplish your goals. This is something an experienced estate lawyer can help you with.
How Mullen Holland & Cooper Can Help
The North Carolina estate planning attorneys at Mullen Holland & Cooper P.A. are deeply familiar with all the laws and regulations surrounding wills and trusts in North Carolina. No matter what your wishes are or the size of your estate, we can help you draft the right will, trust, or both to see that your plans are carried out.
We can also help with administering your estate or trust after your death. If you already have a will or trust in place, we can help you with any changes you need to make if your personal situation changes.
To learn more about how our estate planning lawyers in Gastonia can help you, call our office at 704-864-6751 or visit our contact page.