What are the Differences Between a Will and a Trust?

One of the most important things an individual can do for themselves is to create an extensive estate plan. It allows them to create a plan that prepares for what happens to their assets when their life is over. This helps an individual continue to protect their possessions and belongings after they die. This can include assets such as real estate, bank accounts, securities, and personal items. One part of making an estate plan is writing a will. A will is a legal document that outlines how an individual wants to have their assets distributed once they are gone. Experienced attorneys can guide people through creating a will that is best for them and their loved ones.

What is a Will?

When an estate plan is created, people sometimes wish to write a will. A will is a legal document that allows an individual to decide what they wish to happen to their assets once their life is over. Having a will can prevent any concerns about what would happen to an individual’s assets if they are left unmanaged. In addition to this, a will ensures an individual’s belongings do not end up in the wrong hands, but in those of the people they choose. This also avoids any possible conflicts between loved ones disagreeing over where and to whom they believe the assets belong.

If an individual passes away without a will, it is called dying “intestate.” This means their assets are given to and can be distributed by the state of Massachusetts. In the event of this, the state typically follows a schedule of succession to determine who the assets belong to based on their relation to the deceased.

What is a Trust?

Another part of creating an estate plan may include the creation of a trust to manage the assets. A trust is a contract between the estate and a trustee. A trustee is an individual who manages the trust for the individual who benefits from the trust, also known as a beneficiary. The arrangement of a trust allows a trustee to hold the assets on behalf of the beneficiary.

There are many benefits to setting up a trust instead of other estate options. Trusts avoid probate which makes it possible for a beneficiary to gain access to the assets faster. It also allows a trustor, the owner of the estate, the opportunity to control their wealth by deciding who the estate is distributed to. Similar to a will, it allows them to make sure their properties end up in the right hands. There are several different types of trusts that may be created in Massachusetts. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Revocable Trust
  • Irrevocable Trust
  • Asset Protection Trust
  • Life Insurance Trust
  • Testamentary Trust
  • Special Needs Trust
  • Generation-Skipping Trusts
  • Charitable Remainder and Charitable Leads Trust

Contact our Firm

If you or someone you know is interested in creating an estate plan and is seeking legal counsel, contact the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C. today.

If you require compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance for a matter of divorce, family or estate law, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley today. Our firm proudly serves clients in Mansfield, Massachusetts and throughout Bristol County.