Does a Trust Replace a Will?
Trusts and wills are similar legal documents, covering common matters of estate administration, but they are not identical. As such, a trust does not explicitly replace a will.
To fully understand, let us examine the nature of a trust. A living trust is a trust that:
- You create during your lifetime, into which you then place property and assets
- You may amend or revoke at any point during your life
- Appoints a trustee, and instructs this trustee as to how the contents of your trust should be managed upon the event of your death or disability
One key feature of this type of trust is that you retain full control of how your assets are managed and distributed, through the instructions provided to your trustee. Upon your death, your trustee must distribute the trust property to all designated beneficiaries, or continue managing the trust, in accordance with your instructions.
Very often, living trusts are used to avoid probate proceedings, which are the legal processes by which an estate is settled after a death. While a legal will must be validated by a probate proceedings, assets that are included in a trust avoid the probate process, since their distribution is already defined in the trust itself.
Not all of your assets belong in a trust. You may keep some out of the trust for personal reasons, or because transferring them to a trust is simple impractical, as in the case of cars, jewelry and furniture. Therefore, even if you have a living trust, you should also create a legal will.
A will is the document that defines how property not included in your trust should be distributed to your heirs upon your death. Wills can also designate guardians for your minor children, whereas trusts cannot.
You may also wish to create a living will, which is a document that defines your personal wishes regarding such issues as life support and medical care. These wishes are to be carried out should you become completely incapacitated.
Central Florida probate & will attorney
Living trusts, living wills and legal wills are complex legal documents. If you have any questions about such documents, or want to begin the process of creating your own Ocala, Daytona Beach or Orlando will or trust, contact the Florida law firm of Jerry B. Wells today.