Difference Between Will & Living Trust

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A living trust can help beneficiaries and families avoid probate more so than a will. Find out the difference between a will and a living trust from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Part of the Video Series: Estate Planning
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Video Transcript

One of the big questions we get at our firm is what's the difference between a will and a living trust. And a will is strictly a death instrument. A will says when I die my family gets these assets. One of the things to keep in mind about wills, and it's very important to keep this in mind about wills, is that wills only pass to your family probate assets. Homes perhaps, cars perhaps, money in the bank account perhaps. Wills do not control beneficiary designated assets like IRA's, insurance polices, annuities. Living trusts tend to be more flexible when somebody dies for a couple of reasons. One is you can name your living trust as the beneficiary on your insurance policies, you can name your living trust beneficiary on your retirement accounts, although you've got to have a properly done living trust to do that. You can also pass your property to your family without going to probate if you have a living trust. If you have a will then there is an excellent chance probably a one hundred percent chance your family will go through probate when you die. Probate is the process of taking your name off of the asset and putting the asset in the name of your loved one, or your heirs. With a living trust, the living trust says when I die the trustee changes the trustee, the new trustee is charged with taking the money that's in the trust and giving it to my family. We don't have to go to court because you don't own it, it's owned by the trust.

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