Newman Law Group

Wills and trusts: What are the differences?

More and more people are becoming aware of the need to have an estate plan in place in order to protect their family and ensure that their final wishes are carried out in California. However, a plan can consist of a will, a living will and/or a trust. What should be included, wills or trusts, depends on certain factors.

Wills can take care of distributing assets that are held solely in the name of the author of the will as long as those assets don't exceed $150,000. An estate over that amount becomes subject to probate. A trust can be put in place to administer the assets that may eliminate the probate requirement, and it can also help maintain a family's privacy. When a will goes into probate, it becomes public information available through the court. A trust is kept private.

A will only addresses a person's wishes after one has passed. A living will can address health care instructions should a person become incapable of making his or her own decisions. Failing to provide such instructions may cause additional hardship and expense for family and loved ones. Family may have to petition the court for guardianship in such a circumstance, and that can be an expensive undertaking.

A person in California who is considering establishing an estate plan and has questions regarding wills and trusts may want to seek the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can review a person's financial situation and life circumstances. After reviewing this information, an attorney can make recommendations to his or her client on the best way to proceed to create a comprehensive plan to ensure one's final wishes will be successfully carried out.

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