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Should you create a will or a living trust?

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2022 | Estate Administration

Many people find that it’s usually best to create both a will and a living trust in New Jersey. Each type of document serves an important purpose in streamlining the distribution of your estate after you die.

What goes into a will

The reason why a will is essential is you need to specify what you want your surviving family to do with your digital assets. You may have one person in particular whom you trust to delete your files. Remember to also consider what you want to do with your social media accounts. Details of your burial go in your will as well. You could pass on assets to your loved ones if you want to, but you might find that a living trust is a better option for that purpose.

What a living trust is for

If you have pets, then you must appoint a new caretaker for them. Estate planning law doesn’t allow you to directly leave an inheritance to your pet, but you could set aside money for someone you trust to help take care of them. Some people make the mistake of assigning a caretaker in their will. A will doesn’t legally obligate the person you choose to use the money you leave them for taking care of your pet. To ensure the law enforces your wishes, you need to set up a pet trust to leave behind money for your pet as well as to designate a caretaker whom the law will hold responsible.

Living trusts are also for maintaining better privacy and speeding up probate. Assets that you pass on through a trust don’t become a matter of public record. Everything in your will, in contrast, is public record. Trusts don’t have to go through probate court either. By their design, they automatically transfer to the named beneficiaries. This helps you have more confidence that your property goes where you want it to without any will contests.

Understanding the pros and cons of wills and living trusts helps you construct your estate plan in a way that you feel confident in. Both are essential strategies for protecting your wishes.