Do I Need a Will or Trust, or Both? Answered by a Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney

Many people are familiar with the terms “will” and “trust,” however, they don’t exactly know the difference, nor do they know which is more appropriate to address their needs. Being proactive with your financial planning and asset protection is the first step to taking care of your assets and your family when you pass. The next important step is determining which type of protection and planning will fulfill your wishes and make the most sense for your individual set of circumstances. 

Do you need a will or trust, or both?

Specifically, while a will and a trust serve different purposes and can each be drafted individually for a client, they may also cohesively work together to make an airtight plan as well. To learn more about what type of estate plan is right for you, it is critical to hire an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney who can discuss all of your legal options to ensure you are adequately protected and secure.

Wills, Explained

When you die, a will protects and addresses any property that is in your name and not held in a trust or joint tenancy (with your spouse). It is important to keep in mind that a will must pass through the court system, specifically through the probate department. This means that the court will oversee the validity of the will and handle all distributions and allocations of the property stated therein. Considering that a will must be processed through the court system and in turn, becomes public record, this may or may not be the right estate plan for you.

Trusts, Explained

On the other hand, a trust only covers property that has been assigned or transferred into the trust; property is not covered automatically. A trust is a legal document and agreement set up by a “grantor,” providing a “trustee” with the duty of holding legal title to property for the benefit of another person, called a “beneficiary.” A trust can be created as revocable, in order to provide flexibility, or irrevocable (cannot be revoked), depending on the grantor’s needs and goals. Unlike a will, a trust does not have to go through the court system’s probate department, which can alleviate time and resources and also keeps the matter more private.

How a Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney Can Help You

Let us help you achieve your unique estate planning goals, as our qualified Massachusetts Estate Planning & Probate Attorneys will assess your goals and needs to ensure you receive a plan that works for you. Call The Sullivan Firm, P.C. today at (978) 325-2721 to arrange a free-of-charge exploratory meeting. Together, we can preserve, protect and provide for your loved ones.

Troy Sullivan, Massachusetts Estate Planning AttorneyThe Sullivan Firm, P.C. is a boutique probate and estate planning law firm serving the North Shore and Cape Ann of Massachusetts including Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester and Beverly. The firm concentrates on estate planning matters, including trusts, wills, healthcare proxies, life planning, probate, special needs trusts, and trust administration.