Wills and Trusts
A Will is an Estate planning tool that lets you decide how your assets will be distributed upon death. Within a Will you must appoint a Personal Representative (Executor) to handle the administration of your estate. The Executor will file your will with the probate court, file tax returns, pay creditors, and distribute your assets to the beneficiaries in your will. Minor children can have a guardian appointed for them within the will. A guardian will manage your assets, for the benefit of your children, if a trust has not been established.
Legal arrangements made by one person or an organization, that holds assets for the benefit of another. Trusts serve a similar purpose to a will, but provide more flexibility and options. There are many different kinds of trusts. Some of the most common are revocable trusts, which can be revoked or amended at any time. The most notable benefit of a trust is the ability to avoid the probate process. Similar to a will an administrator, called a trustee, must be appointed to manage the distribution of your assets.
A Revocable Trust or a Living Trust can be amended at any time.
An Irrevocable Trust cannot be amended which better protects your assets than a revocable trust.
A Supplemental Needs Trust allows a disabled person to receive money without losing their eligibility for public benefit programs.
A Charitable Trust is a popular way to donate to charitable organizations. A grantor can transfer assets such as money, real estate or art to a charitable trust, and designate that they eventually be given to a specific organization.
Differences Between a Will and Trust
- Singular purpose of distributing assets
- Goes into effect upon death
- Must pass through court-supervised Probate
- Has more flexibility than a will
- Can go into effect while alive, upon death, or thereafter
- Normally does not pass through court-supervised probate
- Private due to the lack of the open probate process
- Multiple types of Trusts
Frequently Asked Questions
A Will allows you to distribute your assets in accordance with your own wishes. It prevents the state courts from distributing your assets based on the default template.
The type of trust will be determined based on your individual needs. This could include a supplemental needs trust for a disabled family member or a trust for the educational needs of children.
If you die intestate (without a will), Virginia laws will determine who receives your property by default.
A Will does not dictate the distribution of certain types of assets. These are called non-probate property and will pass to someone other than your estate on your death.
A living trust is revocable up to and before death. After death the living trust is now irrevocable.
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