Wills vs. Trusts: Which Is Right for You?

Picture of estate planning documents with a pen and a stamp.If you’re looking to plan for the future, one of the questions you’ll likely be faced with is whether to use a will, a trust, or both. Below, we explore the differences between wills and trusts, and we also highlight the benefits that each one offers.

What Is a Will?

A will is a legal document that details how your affairs should be handled after you pass away. With a will, you can dictate:

  • How your assets should be distributed
  • Who will serve as the guardian(s) for your minor children
  • How your final arrangements should be carried out (for example, whether you want to be cremated or buried, and whether you would prefer a memorial service or a funeral)
  • Who will administer your estate (the executor)

Wills tend to be less expensive than trusts, so they’re often an excellent option for individuals with relatively small and uncomplicated estates.

What Is a Trust?

Like a will, a trust can be used to transfer your assets after your death. But with a trust, you (the grantor) provide another party (the trustee) with the right to hold and manage your assets for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary). A trust can take effect while you’re alive (a living trust or inter vivos trust) or after your passing (a testamentary trust). Trusts offer numerous benefits, including:

  • Control – With a trust, you can control when and how your assets should be disbursed. For example, you can specify that the money shouldn’t go to your beneficiaries until they turn 25, or that it should only be used to pay college tuition.
  • Tax savings – Depending on the type of trust you execute, you may be able to avoid estate taxes after your death.
  • Efficiency – Unlike wills, trusts don’t have to go through the probate process, so trust funds can often be disbursed more quickly and cost-efficiently than will distributions.
  • Privacy – While wills become a part of the public record once they’re filed with the court, trusts remain private. As such, trusts are often a smart option for individuals who don’t want others to know how their assets are being divided.

It’s important to note that, unlike with wills, trusts do not allow you to name guardians for your children. So, if you want to take advantage of the benefits offered by trusts but you have children under the age of 18, you should be sure to also execute a will. And if you opt to use a trust, be sure to keep it updated with any new assets that you acquire throughout your lifetime.

Wills & Trusts Attorneys Serving the Tampa Bay Area

Whether you need a will, a trust, or another type of estate planning document—for example, a power of attorney, living will, or health care surrogate designation—you can turn to the experienced team at The Lyons Law Group, P.A. We have two offices in the Tampa Bay area—one in New Port Richey, FL, and another in Spring Hill, FL—and we’ll be happy to schedule a free initial consultation at the location of your choosing. Once we’ve learned about your circumstances and your estate planning goals, we’ll be able to recommend the approach that’s best suited to your needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

December 11, 2023

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