Estate Planning

Living Trust vs Living Will (2023)

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When it comes to planning your estate, two vital legal instruments often come into play: the living trust and the living will.

While they may sound similar, these documents serve distinct purposes and are essential components of a comprehensive estate plan.

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A living trust allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to a trustee, who will then manage those assets on your behalf. A living will outlines your wishes for end-of-life care, such as whether you want to be placed on life support or receive artificial nutrition and hydration.

By exploring the contrasting features of living trusts and living wills, you’ll gain the knowledge needed to make informed choices and build a robust estate plan that aligns with your unique circumstances.

Comparison Chart

FeatureLiving TrustLiving Will
What is itA legal document that allows a person (the trustee) to manage and distribute their assets during their lifetime and after their death.A legal document that outlines a person’s healthcare wishes in the event that they become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for themselves.
When it takes effectDuring your lifetime and after your deathOnce it has been ascertained that you are in a critical medical condition as defined by the laws of your state, devoid of any possibility of recovery, and incapable of expressing your desires
PurposeTo manage your assets and property during your lifetime and after your deathTo specify your wishes for medical care if you become incapacitated
Public documentNoYes
Involves probateNoYes
Minor childrenName someone to manage the trust for beneficiariesCan appoint guardian
Setup costRequires active financial managementCheaper

What’s A Living Trust

A living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to a trustee, who will manage and distribute them according to your wishes. This can be done during your lifetime or after your death.

There are many benefits to having a living trust. One of the most important is that it can help to avoid probate. Probate is a court process that is required to transfer assets after someone dies. It can be a long and expensive process, and it can make it difficult for your beneficiaries to access their inheritance.

A living trust can also help to protect your assets if you become incapacitated. If you are unable to make decisions about your finances, the trustee can step in and manage your assets on your behalf. This can help to ensure that your assets are protected and used in the way that you intended.

Finally, a living trust can help to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. You can specify exactly who will receive your assets and how they will be distributed. This can help to avoid any disputes among your beneficiaries.

Here are some additional details about living trusts:

  • A living trust is also known as a revocable trust because you can change or revoke it at any time during your lifetime.
  • You can name anyone you trust as the trustee of your living trust, but it is often helpful to choose someone who is familiar with your finances and who is willing to take on the responsibility of managing your assets.
  • The assets that you can put into a living trust vary depending on the laws of your state. However, most assets can be included, such as real estate, bank accounts, investments, and retirement accounts.
  • Once you have created a living trust, you will need to transfer ownership of your assets to the trust. This can be done by changing the title of your assets to the name of the trust.
  • It is important to keep your living trust up-to-date. If you add or remove assets, or if you change your beneficiaries, you will need to update your trust document.

Creating a living trust with the support of services like LegalZoom empowers you to take control of your assets and ensure your wishes are carried out effectively. It’s a proactive step towards safeguarding your legacy and providing for your loved ones in the future.

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Get Peace Of Mind With A LegalZoom Living Trust
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Protect your assets within the family and away from legal disputes. Book a call with LegalZoom's lawyers for exceptional legal guidance.

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What’s a Living Will

A living will is a crucial legal document that allows individuals to express their healthcare preferences and make important medical decisions in advance. It ensures that your wishes are respected and followed, especially during times when you are unable to communicate or make decisions due to incapacitation.

Think of a living will as a personalized guidebook for your medical care. It outlines your specific instructions regarding treatments, life-sustaining measures, and end-of-life care. By creating a living will, you provide clarity to your loved ones and healthcare providers about your desires for medical interventions.

By having a living will in place, you maintain control over critical healthcare choices, even if you are unable to communicate them directly. This document provides peace of mind, as it relieves your loved ones from making difficult decisions on your behalf and ensures that your wishes are honored.

If you are considering creating a living will, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, it is important to understand your options. There are different types of living wills, and the specific provisions that you can include will vary depending on your state’s laws.

Second, it is important to be clear and specific about your wishes. The more detail you can provide, the easier it will be for your loved ones and healthcare providers to know what you want.

Finally, it is important to review your living will regularly. Your wishes may change over time, so it is important to make sure that your living will reflect your current wishes.

Trust & Will offers comprehensive estate planning packages that include a living will. Their services provide a convenient and reliable way to create a living will tailored to your specific needs. With their guidance, you can ensure that your healthcare decisions align with your values and personal beliefs.

Living Trust and Living Will Providers

When it comes to choosing a provider for your living trust or living will, two reputable options to consider are LegalZoom and Trust & Will.

Trust & Will, established in 2017, is an online legal service that aims to simplify the process of creating estate planning documents. Their user-friendly platform allows you to create wills, trusts, and other essential documents with ease.

Trust & Will offers attorney support and legal consultations to ensure you receive personalized guidance throughout the process. They also provide probate support, including a plan that offers attorney representation in court.

LegalZoom, a trusted name in online legal services since 1999, offers a comprehensive range of legal solutions, including estate planning. In addition to creating living trusts and living wills,

LegalZoom provides services for business formation, intellectual property, and real estate. They have a network of independent attorneys available for legal consultations, allowing you to obtain professional advice tailored to your specific needs.

Both Trust & Will’s Attorney Support and LegalZoom’s Attorney Assist provide access to licensed attorneys who can offer customized legal guidance, ensuring that you receive expert advice during the estate planning process.

Choosing between LegalZoom and Trust & Will ultimately depends on your specific requirements and preferences. Consider factors such as user experience, pricing, and the level of legal support you desire when making your decision. You can read more about the two providers in our Trust & Will vs LegalZoom review.

Verdict

So, which document is right for you? The answer depends on your individual circumstances and preferences.

If you are concerned about avoiding probate or ensuring that your wishes are carried out if you become incapacitated, a living trust may be a good option for you. If you are more concerned about end-of-life care, a living will may be a better choice.

It is important to note that a living trust and a living will are not mutually exclusive. You can have both documents in place. In fact, many people do. Having both documents can help to ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event that you become incapacitated or die.

Recommended
Get Peace Of Mind With A LegalZoom Living Trust
Save $150 on an Estate Plan Bundle

Protect your assets within the family and away from legal disputes. Book a call with LegalZoom's lawyers for exceptional legal guidance.

We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.