Most people are familiar with the terms “will” and “trust,” but are you aware of the differences between the two? Despite what some people believe, wills and trusts are not the same thing, nor are they interchangeable. In some cases, it is advisable to have a trust in addition to a will. If you have questions about the right estate planning tools for your particular situation, it is important to speak with a DuPage County estate planning attorney who can give you the proper legal advice.

A Will Takes Effect After Death, and a Trust Starts Immediately

One of the main differences between a will and a trust is that a will does not become effective until after you are dead, whereas a trust is effective as soon as it is created and funded. A trust can also provide for the care of your assets in the event you are incapacitated. A will cannot do that — its purpose is to decide where your belongings and assets go after you are deceased.

A Will Is a Public Document

A will becomes part of the court record when a probate case is opened. It is a public document, and anyone who requests copies of the probate case could, in theory, see everything written in the will. This means that anyone can see your assets with a detailed description, as well as who the beneficiaries are, and anyone can look at what you own and what your final wishes were. A trust is a private document that does not go through the same court process, so it remains confidential. This means no one has access to see what you own, who is the recipient, etc.

Trusts Allow You to Control the Distribution of Your Estate

With a trust, you have better control over the division of assets. Imagine you have a 19-year-old child who is slated to get $100,000 through your will. That means they will get it in one lump sum. With a trust, you can say that your child will get $10,000 per year until they reach a certain age, after which they can receive the full amount if they so desire. This allows you to safeguard your investments while making sure your loved ones receive something and are protected.

Wills Go Through Probate

Wills must go through the probate process to verify they are valid. First, creditors are paid, and then assets can be divided as noted in the will. However, this process can take a significant amount of time — up to a year in some cases — and cost several thousand dollars. With a trust, assets are in the trust’s name and are not subject to probate.

Contact an Illinois Probate and Estate Planning Attorney

The one thing most people want to know is whether a trust or will is better for them. Estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all type of process where everyone’s situation is the same. In some cases, a trust is better, while a will works best for others. This is one of the reasons you need to meet with an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney. Call the office of Momkus, LLC today at 630-434-0400 to schedule an initial consultation. Let us help determine which estate planning tools best protect your assets.



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