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Wills And Trusts: What’s The Difference?

Wills and trusts both play an important role in forming a robust estate plan for Tennessee families.

A will – also called a last will and testament – determines how your assets are divided and distributed after your death. Implementing your will requires the probate process, wherein a designated person, under the probate court’s supervision, takes charge passing your assets on to your heirs and paying your debts.

A trust transfers your assets to a designated trustee, who manages these assets on behalf of the trust’s beneficiaries. These transfers can take place before or after your death. The trustee must ensure any assets you put into your trust are managed and distributed according to your trust document.

Trusts do not go through the probate process. However, unlike in a will, legal ownership of your assets does not automatically change when you place them into trust. You must obtain new deeds and titles which name the trust as the owner of the assets you want managed and distributed by the trust.

Deciding how and when to create a will and trust, and determining which assets should be handled by each, is a complicated process that you should not undertake alone. To help ensure you are providing for the future security and well-being of your loved ones, talk to attorney JennyLynn Carey at JLCarey & Associates, PLLC today. She will work with you directly to assess your financial situation, goals and needs, and can guide you through the complex process of building your estate plan.

Should I Have Both A Will And A Trust?

At a minimum, you should work with an experienced attorney to prepare a will. A trust cannot transfer everything you own to your heirs, nor can it address certain last wishes not pertaining to property – for example, who you may want to raise your minor children or dependents if you die before they become adults.

If you die without a will, a Tennessee probate court will assume full responsibility for your estate and its equal division among your heirs. This process is often slow, contentious, and expensive.

In addition to your will, a trust or series of trusts may be the best option for distributing some – or even most – of your assets. The cost-effectiveness of trusts depends on what type of assets you own and on your current financial situation.

Let attorney JennyLynn Carey help you establish a thorough and effective will, and determine what combination of trusts best suits your goals.

What Do I Need To Complete A Will?

In Tennessee, you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind to create a will. You must do so on hard copy: your will cannot be made through audio or video recording, or through a digital document. Your will must be signed by yourself and witnessed by two other signatories who are not beneficiaries of your will. Your will should also name an executor who will take charge of carrying out your will after your death.

Deciding what assets your will divides and how it divides them can be an intensive and deeply personal process. At JLCarey & Associates, PLLC, attorney JennyLynn Carey will guide you through these careful considerations, and can ensure the necessary obligations are met to make your will legally binding.

Are There Different Kinds Of Wills And Trusts?

Yes, there are different kinds of wills and trusts.

A last will and testament is distinct from a living will, which provides medical care instructions if you become incapacitated. The nature of your last will and testament may also change depending on your marital status or the types of trusts you may create to distribute your property.

There are over a dozen significant types of trusts you can include in your estate plan. These trusts can help you avoid tax penalties, take effect before or after your death, be modified or permanent, or make special considerations for your spouse or disabled loved ones. An attorney can help you determine what type of trusts may best fit your needs.

For comprehensive guidance in assembling your estate plan, contact JLCarey & Associates, PLLC. With a deep knowledge of Tennessee estate law and passion for helping families secure successful futures, JennyLynn Carey is ready to assist you. To schedule a free consultation, complete this online form.