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Comparing Wills & Trusts

Comparing Wills & Trusts

Probate Lawyer

Although a living will and a trust may appear to be similar, in fact, they are quite different from one another. If you or a loved one are needing assistance with establishing either a will or a trust, reach out to a probate lawyer Bergen County, NJ clients trust to help them obtain their goals. 

Trusts & Wills

What is a will? A will is a document established by the estate owner that outlines how they would like their assets to be distributed to their beneficiaries. The will does not go into effect until the estate owner is deceased. 

What is considered a trust? A trust is a legal arrangement that protects the estate’s assets. Unlike a will, a trust can be activated before and after the estate owner’s death, this is what is referred to as a living trust. 

A trust may help bypass the probate court process.

Both a living will and a trust are documents that instruct the transfer of the estate and its assets to their heirs. However, a trust can bypass the probate court process making it a desirable choice for some. Since the state of New Jersey requires all wills to be affirmed and scrutinized through the probate process in court, clients may choose to work with an attorney experienced in estate and probate law to establish a trust. The probate process will go through the deceased’s will and verify its authenticity which may take months to a year. If the will or assets are contested by an heir or outsider of the will the length of probate may extend to years. Beneficiaries of the will and estate do not receive their assets until after probate is finished, meaning if it drags out in court for months or years, the beneficiaries will not receive a single item, or dollar until concluded. Again, this is why some clients tend to favor setting up a trust for their estate or assets, ensuring their heirs receive their inheritance and are not backed up in court through the probate process. 

When a trust is not appropriate.

However, a trust may not be suited for everyone and should be carefully considered before setting up. A trust is created by a trustor, or estate owner and grants the trustee, a trusted friend, family member, or attorney the legal right to manage the trust. A trust is usually set up for a particular person, or purpose. For example, a trustor may set up a trust for their children or grandchildren to gain their inheritance, avoiding certain tax implications and a prolonged probate process. The trustee of the trust manages the trust how he or she sees fit to the benefit of the person or purpose. Many choose a trust to keep assets and funds safe until a beneficiary is of a certain age, based on the preferred wishes of the trustor. Since the trustee has been given legal rights to the trust, it is crucial that the trustee is someone the trustor can trust that will not take advantage of the trust for selfish gain. 

If you are needing counsel regarding a will or trust, it would be extremely advantageous to consult Kaplan Law Practice, LLC to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.  


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