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Reasons to use a trust over a will

California residents and others may not like thinking about their own mortality. However, estate planning is an important way to ensure that loved ones are taken care of after a person passes. Typically, individuals use a will or a trust to distribute assets, and both can do a good job of meeting a person's needs. Prior to deciding which one to use, it is important to know the differences between the two documents.

A will does not go into effect until after a person passes whereas a trust goes into effect the moment that it is signed. Therefore, it can account for a person's needs both while alive and after he or she dies. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable in nature depending on how much control a person wants over the document. A trust offers a layer of privacy that a will does not because a will is made available to the public.

Using a trust may be ideal as opposed to using a will because a will needs to be probated. Probate can take up to six months to complete, and the process can be longer if there is a legal challenge. The language of the trust determines how assets are to be handled when a person dies, and there is generally no need for court approval or oversight to follow its instructions.

Those who are interested in creating a trust as part of their estate plan may learn more about them by speaking with an attorney. It might be possible to gain more insight into how they are formed, the cost to do so and how to structure such a document to conform with existing state law.

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