What are the Differences Between a Will and a Trust?

With a long life comes many different assets and belongings that a person cherishes. Often times, it is important to them to pass these assets onto others at the end of their life so that they can continue to be taken care of. This can be done with the creation of an extensive estate plan. An estate plan allows individuals to prepare for what happens to their assets when their life is over. Assets can be real estate, bank accounts, personal items, and more. People have many different options when setting up an estate plan, including writing a will or creating a trust. When going through this process, an experienced attorney can guide you through this process.

What is a Will?

When creating an estate plan, people often write a will. A will is a legal document that outlines a person’s wishes for what happens to their estate after they die. With this document, they can prevent any worries about what would happen to their belongings if they were to be left unmanaged. It also ensures they do not end up in the wrong hands, but the hands of their choosing. This can avoid any potential conflicts between beneficiaries.

If a person dies without a will, it is known as dying “intestate.” When this happens, it means their assets can be distributed by the state of Pennsylvania following a succession schedule. This schedule is based on the surviving family members of the deceased.

What is a Trust?

Another way for an individual to manage their estate is through the creation of a trust. A trust is essentially a contract between the estate and a trustee. A trustee is an individual who takes care of the trust for the person who benefits from it, who is known as a beneficiary. With this contract, the trustee is able to hold the assets on behalf of the beneficiary.

It is important to know that there are benefits to setting up a trust in place of other estate options. A trust can avoid the process of probate. This means a beneficiary can gain access to these assets faster than they would through a will. The individual who creates the estate can also control their wealth by deciding where the assets end up. In the state of Pennsylvania, there are several different kinds of trusts available to people. Each type of trust serves a different purpose for what the individual wants to accomplish and who they want their assets to go to. Some of the types of trusts available include but is not limited to:

  • Revocable Trust
  • Irrevocable Trust
  • Charitable Trust
  • Charitable Lead Trust
  • Charitable Remainder Trust
  • Inter Vivos Trust
  • Marital Trust
  • Testamentary Trust

Contact our Firm

Friedman Schuman is an experienced and dedicated legal resource for clients throughout Pennsylvania. We proudly serve clients facing a wide range of legal matters. If you require the services of an effective attorney, please contact Friedman Schuman today to schedule a consultation.