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Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C. | Contents of this website may contain attorney advertising | Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances
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The Difference Between Wills and Trusts When It Comes to Securing Your Legacy

Estate planning is an essential step in securing your family's financial future and protecting your assets for generations to come. When embarking on the estate planning journey, it's crucial to understand the fundamental difference between two distinct planning options: wills and trusts. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right approach can make a significant impact on how your assets are managed and distributed.

We want to first focus on a Last Will and Testament, commonly known as a will. This is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets after your passing. Here are some key features of will-based estate planning:

  • Probate Process. When you rely solely on a will for your estate plan, your assets will typically go through the probate process. Probate is a court-supervised procedure that ensures your debts are paid, and your assets are distributed as per your will. However, it can be time-consuming and expensive in certain circumstances.
  • Privacy Concerns. Wills become public records during the probate process, meaning anyone can access the details of your estate and beneficiaries. This lack of privacy can be a significant drawback for some individuals.
  • Litigation Risk. Wills are susceptible to legal challenges, leading to potential disputes among beneficiaries. This can result in delays and added expenses during probate.
  • Limited Tax Planning. While wills allow you to designate beneficiaries, they provide limited opportunities for advanced tax planning and asset protection.

In contrast, a revocable living trust, commonly known as a trust, is an alternative to will-based estate planning. It offers several advantages over wills:

  • Probate Avoidance. One of the most significant benefits of a trust-based estate plan is that it can help you avoid probate altogether. Assets held in a trust can be distributed to beneficiaries without the need for court intervention, saving time and money.
  • Privacy Protection. Trusts are private documents, and the details of your assets and beneficiaries remain confidential. This can be particularly valuable if you prefer to keep your financial affairs private.
  • Litigation Mitigation. Trusts are less likely to face legal challenges than wills, reducing the risk of disputes among beneficiaries and potential litigation.
  • Advanced Tax Planning. Trusts offer more extensive tax planning opportunities, including strategies for reducing estate taxes and protecting assets for future generations.
  • Flexibility and Control. With a trust, you have greater flexibility in how your assets are managed, even if you become incapacitated. You can appoint a successor trustee to manage your affairs and ensure your wishes are carried out.
  • Legacy Protection. Trusts provide a comprehensive and enduring method for protecting your family and legacy. You can set specific conditions for how and when beneficiaries receive their inheritances.

In summary, while both wills and trusts are essential estate planning tools, trust-based planning offers several distinct advantages. A trust-based plan can help you avoid probate, protect your privacy, reduce the risk of litigation, and provide advanced tax planning opportunities. It offers greater control, flexibility, and long-term legacy protection, ensuring that your assets are managed and distributed according to your wishes.

When it comes to securing your family's financial future and safeguarding your legacy, trust-based estate planning is often the preferred choice for those who seek comprehensive protection and peace of mind. We know you may have questions and are here to answer them.

As part of Porzio, Bromberg, & Newman, we have the convenience and vast resources to call upon when you have questions and needs outside of wealth preservation planning. Your goal is our goal. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you plan forward so you are confident your estate planning can reach your goals. We encourage you to contact us today.

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