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Key differences between wills and trusts

For anyone considering estate planning in Nevada, two of the main options are wills and trusts. While there are some individuals who believe it's better to opt for a trust than a will, the fact is that either one of these estate planning methods can work well. A will is a document that typically includes instructions about property and asset division among designated heirs. One can also use a will to name a personal representative to handle an individual's final affairs. Preferred guardians for children can be named as well.

While a will can be a useful document, it doesn't have any power until its creator passes away. At that time, it's presented to the court so the probate process can begin. A trust, on the other hand, is considered a separate and distinct legal entity that can be used to pass along certain assets to designated beneficiaries. There are many different kinds of trusts that can be set up. A revocable living trust, for example, allows the creator (settlor) to also serve as the beneficiary and trustee.

One of the key differences between a trust and will is that a trust is effective during the trust creator's lifetime. A successor trustee can also be named to take over trust management duties if the trustee or settlor becomes incapacitated. After the death of the creator, the designed trustee can begin to execute the terms of the trust without the need to go through the probate process.

An estate planning attorney can help a client determine whether a will or trust is the better option given their personal circumstances. In some instances, it's possible to protect certain assets from taxes or creditors with a trust. Another option is for trust creators to give away some of their assets to beneficiaries as tax-free gifts while still living. While the biggest benefit of a trust is avoiding probate expenses, a well-drafted and appropriately updated will can also ease some burdens for surviving loved ones.

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