Many people confuse the terms “will” and “trust.” A Will and Living Trust are not the same, but both are valuable for communicating your wishes after you’re gone.
What is a Will?
A will is a written legal document that states your post-death desires. In your will, you designate recipients of your money, property, belongings, etc. Additionally, you appoint guardians for your minor children, financial handlers, caretakers of your pets, and more. Your will allows you to manage your affairs ahead of time so there’s no disorder or confusion when you pass.
Generally speaking, people are more familiar with wills than with trusts. However, a Will has several disadvantages, including excessive court fees and becoming part of the public record. While you should certainly create a Will, you do not necessarily need to appoint everything in the one document.
What is a Living Trust?
A Living Trust is not merely a post-death document, nor is it one cut-and-dried document. Many types of trusts exist for many different purposes. However, in simple terms, a trust allows you to grant another individual authority over your assets in both death and life. Typically, your trustee does not handle your assets on their own behalf, but for the benefit of a third party (such as a child).
If you have named a trustee to receive your estate or assets when you pass, then there is not likely to be many complications. Your estate immediately passes to their care without all of the court fees that a Will incurs. Additionally, living trusts are revocable, which means you can change them whenever you desire.
Keep Your Documents in a Safe Place
Creating your end of life documents is the first step in securing your wishes. Step two is storing them in a secure place. The final step is to make sure your family can find your documents.
The U.S. Will Registry was founded in 1997 to fill an important gap. The location of your Will and other documents is stored in a database for later access. The U.S. Will Registry provides families and beneficiaries with a means to find lost Wills, Living Trusts, and other estate planning documents of those who have passed away.
You can register the location of your Will or other documents at The U.S. Will Registry. Then, when it is time for them to be accessed, your beneficiaries can present identifying information and access the location of your will.