The terms Will and Trusts seem to go hand in hand, However, their uses and meanings are vastly dissimilar. Its important when estate planning to understand wills and trusts and determine which option is best for your family. Wills occur frequently in our business and are never welcomed. The phrase “when there’s a will there’s a way” is particularly contrary to our business. We have had instances where countless beneficiaries sign up and a newly uncovered will writes everyone out of entitlement, costing us months of work.
Trusts are far rarer but have still occurred. Wills and trusts do have a lot of overlap. They are both ways to say who will receive your assets. The pivotal difference is that a will does not go into effect after you pass away. However, a trust is effective immediately upon signing the document. Essentially, with a trust all your assets are signed over to the trust, so the trust is the owner. The key benefit here is that you can avoid probate entirely whereas a will most likely has some form of probate.
How do Wills effect Heir Hunters?
As stated earlier, wills can borderline shut a case down completely for us. If there are beneficiaries already stated then there are no beneficiaries for us to trace and prove entitlement for. We have had numerous cases where after the initial will search everything looks clear for us to treat it as a case of intestacy. Then when our property clearance team enter, a will is found in the cupboard, under the bed or what have you. In this instance, the case is more often than not over from our standpoint, as long as the will is legally binding.
How do trusts effect Heir Hunters?
Trusts have also impacted us on a few cases. Similar to a surprise surfacing of a will, trusts have come up causing complications. In one instance, the deceased appointed the trustee to distribute the estate outlined in the trust. This was because the deceased’s mental capacity was starting to diminish with old age, so elected their sister to be trustee of their assets. However, while the deceased was alive, the trustee was taking funds from the estate and after the deceased passed made no effort to distribute the estate. The deceased left their estate to be distributed among her grandchildren after her passing and when they turned 18. The grandchildren were unaware of this trust as it was made a long time ago. Blanchards then represented these beneficiaries in assuring the estate was distributed correctly and lawfully.
What do Heir Hunters recommend?
Ultimately, we recommend planning your estate before your passing. But which do we believe is better? Well, they both offer varying benefits so its difficult to compare and elect one as superior. It really depends on your situation. If your estate is straightforward, a will may be the way to go. However, having someone you trust in control of your estate before you pass can also add peace of mind and help loved ones while you’re still alive. Both have drawbacks and benefits as discussed above.