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How do wills and trusts differ?

When Californians begin the process of estate planning with their attorney, they're often dealing with documents and terms with which they are only vaguely, if at all, familiar. However, it's essential to understand what these various documents are and the distinct purposes that they serve. Two common ones are a will and a trust.

The purpose of the will is to detail who will receive your assets after you die and whom you are naming to be the executor. The executor is tasked with making sure that the terms of the will are carried out as you have designated.

Trusts, on the other hand, are contracts that detail how assets will be transferred to beneficiaries you have named. The person who creates the trust is the settlor. The person in charge of managing and disbursing the assets in the trust is the trustee.

Many Californians have a will as well as a trust. It all depends on how much money and other assets you have and how you wish those assets to be disbursed before and/or after you die.

There are multiple types of trusts that can be used to set aside money for children and other dependents. You can place your assets into a living trust that will then make things easier for your executors and heirs after you've passed away.

Every person's situation is unique. That's why it's essential to sit down with an experienced California estate planning attorney to determine what documents will best help you accomplish your goals for your assets and the people and/or organizations you want to benefit from them.

Source: Lake County News, "Estate Planning: The differences between a trust and a will," Dennis Fordham, Aug. 05, 2017

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