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The Importance Of Wills And Trusts In Estate Planning

If you are at all familiar with estate planning, you likely know what a will is. But many people don’t understand just how powerful a will can be. Similarly, you might have heard the term “trust” but may not know what it is or how it differs from a will.

We’ll discuss some of the basics on this page. If you have additional questions after reading, feel free to contact our attorneys to discuss your estate planning needs.

The Basics Of Wills And Trusts

Wills and trusts are the cornerstone legal tools of most estate plans. Each is used to ensure that your assets go where you want them to go after you pass away, but they achieve this goal in different ways.

A will is a document that lists all your important assets and names the heirs and beneficiaries to whom they will be given. If you have minor children, your will can be used to name guardians for them in case you pass away unexpectedly before your children become adults.

Your will should also name an executor, which is a trusted person who oversees the final affairs of your estate.

A trust, on the other hand, is not a document. It is essentially a legal entity that outlives you. One way to think of a trust is as a legal container that stores all your assets. In many cases, you control the assets while still living and choose what happens to them when you either pass away or become incapacitated.

These are highly customizable legal tools that help you structure exactly how, when and to whom your assets are passed. They can be used for a variety of important purposes, including taking care of loved ones with special needs, reducing your overall tax burden, reducing or eliminating the need for probate and more.

Do You Need Both?

You could technically get by with just a will, but there are many benefits to also creating one or more trusts, as noted above. The overall goal of thorough estate planning is to maximize the assets you are able to pass along, determine where they go and reduce the logistical and financial burdens associated with your estate. A sound estate plan will typically include a will, trust(s) and additional legal instruments.

Discuss Your Needs With An Experienced Attorney Today

Tuttle & McCloskey, PC, proudly serves clients throughout the Fresno/Central Valley area of California. To arrange your initial consultation with one of our skilled estate planning lawyers, call us at 559-500-3393 or fill out our online contact form.