Why do I need a will or trust and what is the difference between them?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2022 | Estate Planning

Writing a will and filing it with the court ensures that your relatives do not have to guess at your wishes.

A trust differs from a will in that your relatives can use it while you are still alive. You may wish to rely on the advice of reliable court sources such as the North Carolina Judicial Branch. Their website gives advice about what to do in the event of a loved one’s death. 

What is a will? How does it benefit me?

A will is a legal document that tells a probate judge exactly what should happen to your assets, property and dependents after you die. A will does not take effect until you die, and it only covers property that is in your name. A will does not go into effect if you are mentally incapacitated or permanently disabled. With a will, your assets have to go through probate before your beneficiaries receive them. When your will goes through probate, all of your assets and intentions become a matter of public record.

What is a trust? How does it benefit me?

A trust can activate the transfer of your assets before your death. Transitions can begin as soon as all parties sign the trust. Trusts are more flexible in that anything you put into the trust becomes eligible for your beneficiaries to use as they see fit. For example, if you enter a coma but do not die, those in charge of your trust can manage your assets. When you recover, you can handle your own assets again. Finally, trusts are private, which may benefit friends and family who do not want to be a part of a public records request.