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The Difference Between a Trust and a Will

Many people believe they must choose between a trust and a will, but this is not necessarily true. Oftentimes, a will is used to “back up” a trust, and a trust is used to cover assets that cannot be included in a will. In this way, trusts fit into your overall estate plan as comprehensive coverage of all your property, assets, and after-death wishes. Primarily, people use trusts to avoid having their will go through probate, which can sometimes be a timely and costly process.

How Trusts Work

Under a trust, your property and assets are transferred while you’re still alive. The legal title to these assets are transferred to a trustee, which is held until it is passed on to a beneficiary of your choosing. Because the property is transferred while you’re alive, it does not need to pass through probate before going to the beneficiary. In a revocable trust (living trust), you have the right to revoke or amend the trust at any time and are considered the equitable owner of the assets while the trustee is considered the legal owner.

In an irrevocable trust, you are granting full legal and equitable ownership of the assets to the trustee, and cannot revoke the trust. Both revocable and irrevocable trusts can be difficult to prepare, as there are many different kinds of trusts, and all require an appropriate and reliable trustee. The attorneys at Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb can prepare a trust that will fit into your estate plan and help you avoid probate. We have been practicing estate planning since 1985, and serve the residents of Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding communities.

Who May Benefit From a Trust in Phoenix, AZ

People tend to assume that living trusts are only necessary for those who are very wealthy. However, anyone who has over $100,000 of equity in real estate or over $75,000 in personal property will need to pass through probate, and will, therefore, benefit from preparing a trust. A well-prepared trust can help individuals achieve any of the following goals:

  • Avoid probate
  • Keep ownership and assets private
  • Establish contingencies for the allocation of assets, i.e. the timing and sum of distribution
  • Dictate instructions for asset management in the event you should become incapacitated
  • Delegate how an existing business should be managed or supported financially
  • Account for complex family situations like ex-spouses, children from other spouses, etc.
  • Establish a charity or scholarship foundation
  • May provide tax benefits for people with estate valued at over $5 million

Get Advice From a Phoenix, AZ Estate Planning Attorney

A deeply experienced attorney will be able to identify key strategies to get you the most out of your estate plan and will ensure that your property and assets are handled in the manner you wish. Additionally, a well-crafted estate plan will prevent asset discrepancies and disputes after your death so your family members can enjoy peace of mind. Contact the attorneys at Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb to discuss whether a living trust is a right option for you.

Based out of Phoenix, AZ, the law offices of Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb have been serving Maricopa County since 1985. We are a team of experienced attorneys who offer collaborative experience over a broad spectrum of law practices. In addition to estate planning, we also practice family law, business law, employment law, and catastrophic injury cases. We are a family-oriented law firm, and we will make sure your estate plan is prepared with exceptional care. We take a personalized approach to all of our clients and take the time to listen to their individual needs before developing a strategy. We take pride in providing value to our clients and finding fair solutions to their complex situation.

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Phoenix Location

7319 North 16th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85020 | 602-870-9700

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1630 S. Stapley Drive, Suite 212, Mesa, AZ 85204 | 480-985-4000