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Understanding The Differences Between Wills And Trusts


Many people who are considering creating an estate plan have heard the terms “will” and “trust” before. Still, not everyone understands the differences between these two important components of an estate plan. While there are similarities between these two important legal documents, there are also important differences. Below, our St. Petersburg wills lawyer explains what these are.

Understanding Wills and Trusts

The last will and testament is the foundation of any other estate plan. Within a will the testator, the person drafting the will, outlines the beneficiaries who will receive their assets after their death, and how the property will be divided between the different beneficiaries. Wills are also often used by testators to name a personal representative who will administer the estate. After the testator passes away, the person who has the will must file it with the appropriate court. The court will then verify the validity of the will.

Trusts, on the other hand, work very differently. When a settlor creates a trust, they transfer the title of property to a trustee. The trustee then controls and oversees the property for the benefits of the people named within the trust, also known as beneficiaries. In some cases, a settlor may name themselves as the trustee, in which case they could continue controlling the assets within the trust during their lifetime while still allowing for easier distribution after their death.

What are the Differences Between Wills and Trusts?

A last will identifies any property that is solely in the decedent’s name and that is then subject to probate. A probate judge must approve the will before it is entered into probate. Property that is held in a trust, or that is held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship is not subject to the probate process.

Once the will is filed with the court and a judge has confirmed its validity, the court will then consider whether the person named as personal representative qualifies. If so, the court will then follow the provisions outlined by the testator in the will and ensure that property is distributed according to the will. If assets have already been transferred to a trust, there is no need for the court to supervise the administration of the trust.

Lastly, wills pass through probate court and as such, they become public record. Trusts, on the other hand, are not part of the probate process and so, the provisions contained within them can remain confidential.

Our Wills Lawyer in St. Petersburg Can Help You Plan Your East

Estate plans are made up of many different components and it is essential to know which ones are important to include in yours. At Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, our experienced St. Petersburg wills lawyer can advise on the different aspects of your estate so you can protect your family’s future. Call us now at 727-471-5868 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more about your options.




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