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What is the Difference Between a Trust and an Estate Plan?

What is the Difference Between a Trust and an Estate Plan?

When you establish a trust, you are giving someone else (your “trustee”) the authority to manage your assets after you pass away. A trust is a legally binding document that serves as one element of a comprehensive estate plan. A trust should not be confused with a last will and testament, which designates your beneficiaries but does not help you avoid the probate process.

A trust is a single legal and financial document that enables your trustee to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries when that time arrives. Establishing a trust is one way for you to control the distribution of your wealth beyond your lifetime, but a trust is only one part of a comprehensive estate plan.

What Does a Trust Accomplish?

When you establish a trust, you move your assets into the ownership of the trust, but during your lifetime, you retain control of those assets. Is a trust right for you? Unless you’re a financial expert or an estate planning lawyer yourself, you’ll need to consult with Fort Lauderdale trust attorney Marc Brown. He can suggest the estate planning options that will work best for you.

A trust essentially lets you serve as your own trustee until your death or incapacitation. Your trust can also serve as your beneficiary or as a secondary beneficiary, which many find convenient.

Trusts allow your estate to avoid probate. The reason to establish a trust is that after your death, the property owned by the trust is not a part of your probatable estate. (Trust property, however, is considered part of your estate for federal estate tax purposes.)

Thus, when the time comes, your trustee can quickly transfer the trust property to your heirs without probate. In a trust document, which is comparable in some ways to a will, you name the person or persons who will inherit the property. You will need to have a Fort Lauderdale trust attorney help you create a trust.

What is an Estate Plan?

A trust may be one element of your estate plan. An estate plan is a set of legal and financial documents that accomplishes several important goals. A comprehensive estate plan includes a last will and testament, beneficiary designations, a trust, and a durable power of attorney.

An estate plan is important to establish because it spells out how your assets are to be distributed after your death. It also provides instructions for others if you are incapacitated. When you create an estate plan, you ensure that your instructions will be followed. Attorney Marc Brown can help you develop an estate plan that minimizes the taxes on your assets and helps your estate avoid the costly and time-consuming probate process.

How Does an Estate Planning Lawyer Help?

If you pass away without any will, trust, or estate plan, the state determines what happens to your assets, and they may not be distributed the way you wish. Estate planning attorney Marc Brown can develop a plan that lines up with your wishes and benefits your loved ones.

As your life changes, you may need to review and update your estate planning documents. Your lawyer will help you change and amend your estate plan as needed, and you can rely on attorney Marc Brown to ensure that you have the strongest and most efficient estate plan in place.

If you have estate planning questions, or if you are ready to create a trust or a comprehensive estate plan, contact the Fort Lauderdale law firm of Marc Brown, P.A as soon as possible to schedule your first estate planning consultation with no cost or obligation.