If you’re not familiar with the estate planning process in Texas, all of the tools and terms can seem like the same exact thing. However, there are significant differences between estate planning tools – like wills and trusts, for example.
What is a will?
A last will and testament is a straightforward document that outlines all of your assets, and who they should go to. Wills only go into effect after you pass – so nothing you write down has any effect until after you’re gone.
A will helps your family navigate the probate process, and it’s straightforward for anyone to use. However, if you have a larger estate, you might have difficulty getting everything covered in a will.
What’s a trust?
A trust can give you more control over your estate than a typical will. You can move your assets into a trust. In doing so, your assets belong to the trust.
This helps avoid both probate court and estate taxes. You’d name your children – or friends, other family members, etc. – as trustees, and then they’d have control over the trust after you pass.
There are different trusts for different situations. For example, you can set up a trust to pay out to your beneficiaries over a longer period of time if you’re worried about supporting them for an extended period of time.
Which one is better?
There’s no clear-cut answer to which estate planning tool is better. Both wills and trusts have their distinct purposes – ideally, they’d be used together in an estate plan.
The important thing is that you have some estate plan set up to make things easier on your family when you die. It will take considerable planning and ongoing reviews of your estate to decide what tools work best for your family.