What is a Will and How Does it Differ from a Trust?

Have you ever thought about the legacy you’d like to leave behind? Most of us have. However, when it comes to the nitty-gritty of ensuring our assets find the right hands or serve the right purpose, things can become a tad confusing. Enter the world of wills and trusts – two crucial tools in the realm of estate planning. While both aim to secure a person’s intentions for their assets, they operate quite differently. Let’s journey together into understanding these tools, their unique features, and how they fit into the bigger picture of your estate planning needs on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

The Basics of a Will in Massachusetts Estate, North Shore 

A will, in its simplest form, is a written document that provides instructions for the distribution of a person’s assets upon their passing. It’s a legal way for you to dictate who gets what, and it can also be used to nominate guardians for any minor children. At Jordan & White LLC, we often explain to our clients that a will speaks for you when you can’t. It offers a reassuring sense of clarity to your loved ones during challenging times, ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Diving Into the Trust Territory

Unlike a will, a trust is a legal entity created to hold assets for the benefit of specific individuals or entities. Trusts can be useful in managing assets during one’s lifetime, potentially offering tax benefits, and ensuring privacy after one’s passing. They can also provide stipulations on how beneficiaries access and use the assets. In essence, while a will outlines your wishes for asset distribution after death, a trust can start functioning and benefiting its designated beneficiaries even while you’re alive.

Key Differences Between a Will and a Trust in Massachusetts

While both wills and trusts have their unique advantages, they serve different purposes in estate planning. One significant difference is their activation time; a will only comes into play after your death, whereas a trust can be operational during your lifetime. Additionally, assets transferred into a trust can avoid probate – a legal process that verifies a will, which might sometimes be time-consuming and costly. Another notable difference lies in privacy; trusts are typically private documents, while wills become public records upon death.

Choosing What’s Right for You

Selecting between a will and a trust—or even deciding to use both—depends on individual preferences, the nature of the assets, and specific family needs. Some people find peace of mind in the simplicity of a will, while others appreciate the control and privacy a trust provides. Regardless of the route you choose, it’s vital to ensure that the document accurately represents your wishes and the needs of your beneficiaries.

Revisiting and Updating Your Documents Regularly 

Life is ever-changing, and so might be your assets or your beneficiaries’ circumstances. Just as with any essential document, we at Jordan & White LLC, always encourage our clients to revisit and update their wills or trusts when major life changes occur. This ensures that your estate planning tools always mirror your most current intentions and situation.

Seeking Guidance on Wills and Trusts

Grasping the intricacies of wills and trusts might seem overwhelming. But with the right guidance, the process becomes seamless. At Jordan & White LLC, we are here to help you understand these tools better and aid in crafting a comprehensive estate plan tailored to your needs. Feel at ease knowing your estate is in order. Call us today at 978-744-2811 or contact us online. Your estate planning attorneys on the North Shore of Massachusetts await to serve you.