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Wills and Trusts - What's the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

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Wills and trusts are often confused but they're really easy to keep straight if you remember a few simple facts:

  1. A Last Will and Testament only goes into effect after death, while a Revocable Living Trust goes into effect as soon as it's signed.
  2. A Last Will and Testament only governs the disposition of property owned in the Testator's sole name (including as a tenant in common), while a Revocable Living Trust only governs the disposition of property transferred into it.
  3. Because a Last Will and Testament goes into effect after death, it does nothing to plan for mental disability, while a disability plan can be written right into a Revocable Living Trust.
  4. Property passing under the terms of a Last Will and Testament goes through probate, while property passing under the terms of a Revocable Living Trust avoids probate.
Still confused? Then remember #1 above - a Last Will and Testament can only go into effect after you die, while a Revocable Living Trust is just that, "living," and so it goes into effect as soon as you sign the trust agreement and continues in effect if you become mentally incapacitated and also after you die.

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