A Will is a legal document that allows you to direct how your property will be distributed upon your death. Having a Will enables your assets to be transferred smoothly after you’re gone. A Will also allows you to designate beneficiaries to receive specific items. For example, if you want your house, your car, or your antique thimble collection to go to a certain person or organization, you can designate that person or organization as the beneficiary for that specific item. Who's going to make sure that your antique thimble collection goes to the proper person? The Executor of your Will. The Executor is the person you designate to manage your estate and carry out your wishes. Upon your death, your Will is reviewed by the Court. After the payment of your debts, the Court then supervises the distribution of your assets to your beneficiaries through a process known as probate. A Will is less expensive than a Trust, and is easy to change should you desire to
A Will comes into play only after you die, but a Living Trust can actually start benefiting you while you are still alive. A Living Trust is a trust established during your lifetime. It is revocable, which allows for you to make changes, however, these changes are not quite as simple to make as changes to a Will. With a Living Trust, you transfer your property into your trust during your lifetime, and any omitted assets can be transferred into the trust at the time of death through the use of a simple Pour-Over Will. You should always make a Pour-Over Will at the time that you establish your trust.
A Living Trust will be used as the mechanism to manage your property before and after your death, as well as provide for how those assets and the income earned by those assets are distributed after your death. If you should become incapacitated or disabled, the trust is in place to manage your financial affairs, usually by a Successor Trustee, if you were serving as Trustee. Naming a Successor Trustee through a Living Trust can also help avoid the need to set up a conservatorship later in life. A Living Trust is not subject to probate, and therefore, all provisions of the trust will remain private.
Joint Living Trusts are also possible. They simply combine the assets of a husband and wife into a single trust, governed by a single trust document.
The Courts will appoint someone to care for your children and provide for their welfare. Both a Will and a Living Trust give parents the chance to nominate a guardian for their minor children. The court makes the final decision when appointing a guardian for your children after your death, but the Court will usually accept your nomination. A guardian’s legal responsibility is to provide for your child’s care and welfare.