It is important to understand the difference between wills vs trusts. Both can be used to provide for an inheritance for loved ones, but they serve very different purposes. While many people mistakenly believe that wills are going to be sufficient for securing their legacy, this is unfortunately not the case in most situations. A trust can provide you with many substantial benefits not available with a will alone.
You should talk with an experienced trust lawyer to find out more about wills vs trusts and how these legal tools can be part of your estate planning and legacy planning process. Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC has extensive experience with legacy planning and we can offer you guidance on how to use all available legal tools under Vermont law to ensure you can make the mark you want to leave on the world.
Wills vs Trusts and Your Legacy
Wills are one of the most common estate planning tools, but are not the only tool to use. Wills let you specify who you will leave assets to following your death. This is all that wills do. They do not protect your assets in case there are creditor claims or in case you need nursing home care and have too many resources to qualify for Medicaid to pay for that care. They do not address the special needs of those who stand to inherit, and they can not help you to address any end-of-life issues that may arise.
Trusts, on the other hand, can give you much more control. You can use different kinds of trusts to ensure assets are protected during your life and to provide for the people you love after you are gone. For example, trusts can be used to avoid estate tax and trusts can be used to transfer assets outside of the probate process in order to ensure your heirs inherit in a timely manner when they are counting on an inheritance to provide for them after you are gone.
Trusts can also allow you to leave money to a minor child without the court having to appoint a guardian, and without the child receiving a no-strings-attached inheritance upon his or her 18th birthday. If you have a loved one with special needs, trusts can provide you with the answer to the problem of how to provide income and assets without causing a loss of access to government benefits. While a relative who is disabled could be unable to manage money you leave to him and could lose means-tested benefits due to an inheritance, a special needs trust can help make sure this does not happen.
Trusts can even make it easier for you to leave money to charity in the most effective way, while also maximizing your tax benefits. A charitable remainder trust is one of the most popular and beneficial ways to engage in charitable giving and can be better for you and the organization than just making a gift to a charity in your last will and testament.
These are just a few of the many key differences of wills vs trusts. An estate planning lawyer should be consulted to provide insight into which tools are best in your particular situation.
Getting Help with Your Legacy Planning Process
While wills vs trusts are different, you can incorporate both into a comprehensive plan to provide for your loved ones and determine how you are remembered. Deciding which legal tools to use is just the beginning, though. You also have to make certain you follow all formal requirements under Vermont law for creating wills and trusts that are legally valid.
Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC can offer you advice on how best to use wills and trusts and can help you to create a last will and testament as well as both irrevocable and revocable trusts. With assistance from an experienced attorney, you can ensure there are no problems or surprises that prevent your estate plan from functioning as it should or that prevent you from getting expected trust benefits.
Contact a Legacy Planning Lawyer Today
Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC is here to help you ensure that you have a solid legacy plan in place so you can take care of your family and provide for charitable causes you care about, even after you are gone. To learn more about the ways in which our legal team can help you to effectively use wills vs trusts in your legacy plan, give us a call at (802) 879-7133 or contact us online to speak with a Burlington trusts lawyer. You can also download our free estate planning worksheet to find out more about wills and trusts.