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Living Trusts vs Wills: Understanding the Difference

Posted by Eric E. Davidson | Oct 15, 2019 | 0Comments

One of the most important decisions you can make in life is what will happen to your estate and your loved ones after you are gone. Many people think a will is enough to protect their loved ones from probate, but a living trust has major advantages.

To learn which estate planning document is best for your situation, it is important to speak to an experienced and skilled Oakland estate planning lawyer. An estate planning attorney can help you understand the differences between a living trust and a will.

Differences Between a Living Trust and a Will

A will and a living trust both protect your estate and assets after your death. They are legal documents that allow you to designate beneficiaries and decide how your family receives your assets once you are gone. Both of these documents allow you to maintain control and protect your hard-earned assets, as well as choose who will care for your minor children.

While these documents do have some similarities, there are also many differences. Understanding those differences can help you choose the best estate planning option for you and your family.

Will vs. Living Trust

Will Living Trust
Describes your property and who inherits it You must name someone to manage your estate, also known as a trustee
Simple to set up More time consuming to establish
Less expensive estate planning tool More expensive process
Creditors can sue you for claims in a will Creditors are not allowed to bring claims against the property in a living trust
Public disclosure of assets and debts Private
Expensive probate fees for beneficiaries No probate
Maximum estate taxes No unnecessary taxes
Easily contested No contest clause
Ultimately court controlled Family controlled
Does not require a notary public Requires notarization
Does not require a transfer of property Requires a transfer of property
Can name an executor or guardian for children Cannot name a guardian for your children
You can change it at any time You cannot alter some types of living trusts
Takes effect after your death Takes effect after receiving your signature

How Do You Know Which Estate Planning Option is Best for You?

If you have a valuable estate, a living trust may be your best option. If you have small children, you will need a will to name a guardian who will care for them. However, you may also wish to set up a living trust to establish guidelines when a child is entitled to those assets.

As you can see, without an experienced Oakland estate planning lawyer on your side, it can be difficult to decide which estate planning option is best for you.

Contact Our Oakland Estate Planning Attorneys

Without estate planning, the courts may have the ultimate say over who inherits your estate and how your loved ones are cared for when you are gone. Estate planning puts the decision-making into your hands now, before it is too late.

Contact the Oakland estate planning attorneys at Davidson Estate Law at (510) 527-6774 or fill out our confidential contact form. Our main office is in Oakland, but we also have offices in Berkeley, San Francisco, Walnut Creek, San Jose, and San Mateo to better serve you.


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