How is a will different from a trust?

Wills and Trusts, Which Estate Plan to Choose

A “will” or Last Will and Testament, is a legal document familiar to most people.  However, what many people do not know is that a will primarily provides the probate court with your directions.  Although, the law has requirements regarding the enforcement of provisions in a Last Will and Testament, there are instances when a will can be modified by the court, excepted from or set aside.  And yes, in almost all situations a will must be formally probated, which means filed with the probate court and the distribution of estate property is then supervised by the court.  A formal probate typically requires a lot of time, and is quite complicated.  In fact, a formal probate action requires the services of an attorney licensed in Tennessee.

What does a Trust do that a Will Does Not?

Well a Revocable Trust (sometimes referred to as a “Living Trust“) by its very nature eliminates the need to probate or have any court involvement.  A trust is a contract between the parties who placed their property in the trust (Settlors / or Grantors) and the Trustee(s) of the trust.  In a typical family trust a husband and wife are the Settlors and assign their ownership and/or beneficial interest in certain assets to themselves as Trustees of their Trust, and the person or persons they designate to be Successor-Trustees (often time a child or children).  The Trust Agreement is revocable (which means it can be dissolved) and amendable (can be changed) and provides for the management of property during lifetime and distribution of property after death.

Revocable Trusts are very flexible and can be written to meet your specific needs and desires.  Contact Attorney Jim Purple, 31+ years experience in estate planning, including wills and trusts.  Learn more about estate planning