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While wills and trusts are both helpful estate planning tools, each function differently. Depending on your personal situation, one might be more suitable than the other. You might also find that using these estate planning tools in conjunction offers the maximum benefit.
The first step is to understand the many differences between wills and trusts and Walk-In Wills uses our extensive legal knowledge to help you do just that. Our New Mexico attorneys will explain how wills and trusts can fit into your estate plan, as well as how to structure each legal document so that your assets are handled in the appropriate manner.
A person creates a will during his or her lifetime and when the person dies assets are dispersed according to the instructions within the will. Conversely, trusts go into effect as soon as they’re created, and assets can be distributed during a person’s lifetime. Unlike wills, trusts can also be created with special conditions in place. For example, the trust holder can stipulate that heirs must reach a certain age or accomplish a specific task before money is provided.
Wills must pass through probate in most cases. During the probate process, the validity of the will is established, personal debts are paid off, and the remaining assets are provided to heirs as directed. Estate assets are used to settle debts, as well as pay legal fees, which directly impacts how many assets heirs ultimately receive. Probate can also take months or even years to complete if the will is contested. Wills are contested when it’s believed they’re invalid or were created under duress. Because assets within a trust are owned by the trust, they’re not subject to probate upon a person’s death.
With wills, only property in your name only can be included. For example, if you’re in a joint tenancy with another person that property can’t be placed in your will. Under joint tenancy rules, the property will go to the co-owner upon your death. Because assets are owned by the trust, you must make sure it’s properly funded. This entails retitling documents to show ownership by the trust. If you create a trust and fail to fund it, those assets will be subject to probate as well.
At Walk-In Wills, we believe in providing clients with reliable legal advice on estate planning topics. We also believe in making our services affordable, which is why we offer multiple estate planning packages with easy-to-understand flat rates.