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Basic differences between wills and trusts

Most Florida residents know that they need an estate plan. It doesn’t matter if their assets are comprehensive or more modest in size; they know that the best way to make sure that their final wishes are followed is to develop a good estate plan. They probably also know that wills and trusts form the foundation of good estate planning, but they may not know what the differences are between these documents.

One of the basic differences between wills and trusts is when they take effect. A last will and testament is only invoked after the testator has passed away. A living trust is different, and becomes active as soon as the testator signs it. But, it’s important to remember that both of these documents can be revised as long as the testator is still mentally competent. So, if there are changes in the testator’s life, the plan can be modified in order to accommodate these changes.

Another important difference between wills and trusts is how these documents are affected by probate. A testator’s will must go through the probate process once the testator dies. Therefore, any asset that is part of that will has to go through probate before it can be passed on to someone else. However, assets that are part of a living trust do not have to go through probate. These assets can be directly transferred to the beneficiary.

It’s also important to remember that a will becomes a matter of public record, while the terms of a living trust do not. Any Florida resident who may want to create a will or a living trust may want to get more information in order to find out additional differences between these types of documents.

Source:, “Wills and trusts: what’s the basic difference between a will and a trust?” Accessed July 2, 2016

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