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Financial Education

Will vs. Trust: How to choose

March 12, 2024 | 3 min read

Wills and Trusts are legal documents that determine who will manage your assets and how your assets will be distributed after your passing. This broad overview of both document types may provide a foundation for making a decision that’s right for you and your family.

Making a Will or creating a Trust isn’t necessarily something you want to think about. But it could be one of the most important decisions you can make. If you are ready to tick the “estate planning” box off your to-do list, our Wills & Trusts Specialists can help you understand the documents so you can make the critical decisions necessary to move forward with the process. Creating an estate plan now affords you the knowledge and peace of mind that your loved ones will have the tools to carry on if the unexpected happens. A Wills & Trusts Specialist can help you capture your wishes in personalized legal documents drafted at your direction and uniquely tailored to meet your needs.

What Is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that determines how someone’s personal assets will be distributed. It’s not just about money and possessions.

Your Will package can also provide instructions for end-of-life care needs and funeral arrangements as well as memorialize your wishes regarding who will care for your children.

  • The people who receive your assets after your passing are called  beneficiaries. You can designate one or more beneficiaries to receive a specific asset or to receive specified portions of your estate.
  • An Executor (Personal Representative) is a person you name to oversee the handling of your estate.
  • A Will becomes effective upon death.

What is a Trust?

A Trust is a legal document that contains instructions on how you’d like your assets controlled, divided and distributed upon your death. Unlike a Will, a Trust goes into effect immediately when you sign it.

There are many types of Trusts. The most common types of Trusts are Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts. A Revocable Living Trust (sometimes just called a Living Trust) can be amended or revoked at any time prior to death. An Irrevocable Trust cannot be altered or terminated.

What about Probate?

Probate is a legal process by which the court validates that a Will was properly executed. Probate through the courts may not be needed if an estate plan has been created.

“Probate involves court fees and a waiting period, as well as potential legal costs with an attorney. These activities will need to take place during a stressful time since the family is mourning,” says Matt Osborn, Wills & Trusts director at Desert Financial. “With a little planning, you can leave your family with a smoother transition so they can carry out your wishes.”

Will vs. Trust: Determining what’s right for you

“At the most basic level, a Trust is a tool that can control and manage your estate, while a simple Will is merely a statement of your wishes,” Osborn explains. “The value of the estate is only one factor. The need for control is an equally important aspect.”

When considering the management of your estate, you’ll want to determine your personal preferences, what’s most important to you and your family’s short- and long-term needs. It’s not a one-size-fits-all process.

Attending one of our online  Wills & Trusts seminars  is a great place to start. You’ll receive information designed to provide an overview of the legal documents we offer for estate planning. If you determine one of our product offerings will meet your needs, the next step will be a no-cost, no-obligation, one-on-one meeting with a Wills & Trusts specialist. Just fill out this quick contact form and we’ll reach out to schedule a phone, Zoom or in-person appointment that’s convenient for you!

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Document preparation services are offered through Desert Financial Credit Union; an Arizona Supreme Court Certified Legal Document Preparation Business Entity (CLDP #81024). Legal document preparation services are not insured by the NCUA and have no credit union guarantee.

The material presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as financial, investment or legal advice.

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