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What is the difference between a living trust and a will?

Estate planning is one of those things that can sit on your to-do list for years. You might not know where to start. Like anything new, once you take the plunge, it is not as bad as you thought. Unless you have complex assets, a few estate planning documents will suffice.

What is the simplest way to pass assets to my family?

You can use either a will or a living trust to pass assets to your family. The problem with a will is it provides limited protection as it must pass through a probate court. That means people can challenge it. They could include people you owe money or family who feel you should have left things to them. Even if your will emerges intact from probate, it can be months before your beneficiaries receive what you left them.

A living trust allows you to pass assets to people as soon as you die. It does not go through probate, so it protects assets from challenges or creditors. It also keeps details of the assets private, unlike a will. The other advantage is that you can choose how or when to distribute assets. For example, you could decide to give your children a certain amount each year rather than a lump sum.

You can make changes to your estate plan

You can update your will as often as you wish. As long as you make a living trust revocable, you can also make changes as you go through life. Working out how to pass on assets is one step in estate planning. Planning for old age or ill health is another you need to consider. While estate planning need not be complicated, it is best to seek the help of someone with experience.

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