If you are just beginning to think about protecting your family with estate planning, you probably have several questions about what it involves. One of the most common questions that Tampa trust lawyers receive is whether a will alone is enough or if a living trust is a better solution to achieve one’s estate planning goals. Most people understand the basic mechanics of a will, but there is often confusion about trusts. Here are three things to know to help you understand the differences.
1) All assets do not have to go into your trust.
Assets that already have beneficiaries named, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies, pass directly to the beneficiary without needing to go through probate. For that reason, a trust is usually not necessary to deal with such assets. There are exceptions that an attorney may discuss depending on your goals—for example, some people may choose to name a trust as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or 401k for asset protection and tax purposes.
2) Your will is not private.
One of the many benefits of a trust is that it will not have to go through the court probate process and therefore stays completely private after you pass away. By comparison, a will is public record and available to anyone that requests a copy.
3) Your trust will not replace a will.
A will is still necessary for the direct transfer of non-tangible assets and naming guardians for minor children. A will is also used to “pour over” any outstanding assets into the trust when someone passes away.
Putting your assets in a trust has several financial and personal benefits, but this legal tool is not for everyone. The only way to know what option is best for you and your family is to talk to a qualified estate planning attorney who can look at the overall picture of your life and your goals to help you determine which strategies can best meet your needs. If you need assistance getting started, simply call our Brandon law firm at (813) 438-8503 to schedule a consultation.