Do trusts provide advantages that wills don't?

When Palm Beach residents talk to anyone about estate planning, one of the first things they probably hear is that they need a will. While that is good advice, other circumstances involved could require more than just a last will and testament. Trusts have certain benefits that wills cannot provide, and whether to use them depends on the goals and wishes of the individual considering them.

One of the most popular trusts is the revocable living trust. It is formed during an individual's lifetime and can be changed, modified or even canceled as long as the maker (also called the trustor) is alive and not incapacitated. Wills can also be changed, but they do not provide an incapacitated person with any benefits. A revocable living trust can provide financial stability during such a time since the successor trustee can simply step in and take over the management of the assets in the trust.

Another advantage is that the assets in the trust do not go through probate. Not only does this preserve the trust maker's privacy, but also ensures that assets could be available to surviving family members immediately. With a will, assets are tied up in probate for months or even years, depending on the circumstances.

Whether trusts would benefit certain Palm Beach residents would require a thorough review of the finances, assets, and goals of a particular individual. Some people who do not have a trust may need one while others who have one may not receive all of the benefits that trusts provide. This is not to say that wills are not an important part of any estate plan, but a trust could make things go more smoothly and quickly either after death or in the event the maker subsequently becomes incapacitated.

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