BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV)- Question: I have a will and have considered getting a living trust. Could you please explain the difference?
Answer: (John Halterman-Beacon Wealth Management): "The first thing is, a living trust is the most basic foundation document of estate planning. What is going to help you do is, it’s going to help you state your intentions, which is fantastic because now they are in writing. But what a will does not do is help you with probate.
That’s what the difference is with a living trust. A living trust is a true living document that you use while you’re living, not just after your death like you do will. It is a document that is going to help you when the time comes that you pass away, your family can avoid probate and be able to step in and legally do things for you. That’s the primary difference between the two.
One is just used for after death, one is used for after-death and while you’re living to own assets. The other advantage of a living trust is privacy. The trust owns assets versus you personally owning assets."
Question: What are some of the advantages?
Answer: (John Halterman-Beacon Wealth Management): "I think the advantage is, if you are a person and you want privacy, meaning that you do not want your assets to go up on probate, and you do not want to go through the probate process and you want to settle your estate, well then the living trust is going to allow you to do those two things.
That’s a huge, huge advantage because for a lot of people, they don’t realize that when you have a will that means your assets go through probate, they become public record. Anyone can go and make a claim against them. Here it’s private and avoids probate and sells quickly.
Also, if you have an estate, a significant amount, let’s say over $10,000,000, there’s an AB or family trust that is a lot of times included and that allows you to double your estate tax exclusion. A will is the basic foundation, where as a living trust is the next step in helping you do a better job of planning your estate."