Authored by Julia Johnson-McGee in Legal
Published on 07-29-2009
A will and a trust are both legal documents that you have prepared before your death that will make finalizing your demise easier for your loved one. Simply stated, they tell others what you want done with the possessions you gained during your lifetime. The difference between a trust and will are great.
A living trust is a legal document that gives one person power over the assets of another during their lifetime. A trust that is not a living trust also gives one person control over the assets of another, but the assets are inherited through the death of the original owner. In addition, one difference between a trust and will is that a trust can only become operational after a will has been probated.
Wills cannot be effective until after the maker of the will is deceased. This is a very large difference between a trust and will. They are a legal document that names exact individuals and what they will receive from the estate, and there is an Executor of the estate that is appointed. The Executor is to make certain that the wishes in the will are handled exactly as pointed out. The maker of the will can specify that the Executor is to answer to the court for any actions they take as Executor. This ensures that the Executor is following the will as stated.
Another difference between a trust and will, is often when a trust is within a will it is for the care of minor children. An Executor is appointed who will handle the financial side of the trust and ensure that the minor child will receive the funds needed for his or her care. Most trusts set up for this reason are dissolved upon the minor child reaching the age of 25, in which time it is assumed that the child has finished both high school and the first four years of college. As a rule, upon turning 18 and graduating from high school, the trust is used solely for higher education purposes rather than simply the care and nurturing of the child.
Pointing out a further difference between a trust and will, a will is a legal document that tells what the creator of the will wished done with his or her property after their death. Property in this sense generally only applies to real property such as real estate, vehicles, and money. They will also often state where any minor children will be raised if the decedent should pass before the children reach the age of maturity. Only the most recent will is effective, and all previous wills are considered null and void immediately after the creation of a new one.
In order for a person to be legally able to create a will, they must be over the age of majority, which in the United States is the age of 18, and they must be of sound mind.
The largest difference between a trust and will is that a trust is created within a will; a will cannot be created within a trust.