Last Will – Living Will – Living Trust

Stephen Howard — Stone River Law

Real People. Real Solutions.

Last Will – Living Will – Living Trust

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The legal terminology used in estate planning can be confusing. Some of the most commonly misunderstood terms include last will, living will, and living trust. The similarities between these terms might lead someone to think that they have similar meanings. But each of these documents can play a very different (and very important) role in a comprehensive estate plan.

A brief explanation of each of these estate planning tools is provided below. This information is not intended as legal advice for your specific circumstances. Instead, for help with creating a complete estate plan or modifying an existing plan, contact us today to see what the right attorney can do for you.

Will – Sometimes referred to as a “last will” or “last will and testament,” a will directs the distribution of your property at your death, sets out who is entitled to inherit under your will, and designates the person who will be responsible for collecting and distributes those assets. A will can also be used to state your burial or funeral preferences, and to nominate a guardian for any minor children you may leave behind.

In some cases, a will can be used to establish a testamentary trust. Without a testamentary trust, distributions under a will are normally made as soon as practicable. In place of a testamentary trust, many individuals will choose to create a living will (see below).

Living Will – A living will has nothing to do with the distribution of your property or assets. Instead it is a tool used to express your will (or desires) regarding end-of-life care care decisions. A living will can also designate an agent to speak for you on these issues if you are no longer able to speak for yourself. Most people in Utah will use an advance health care directive that combines the functions of both a living will and a medical power of attorney.

Living Trust – A living trust is distinguished from a testamentary trust by the fact that it is created while you are still alive, whereas a testamentary trust is created by action of your last will and testament, which acts only after your death. A living trust is a powerful estate planning tool. The following are just few examples of how a living trust can be used: to direct the immediate distribution of the trust assets upon your death; to direct the trustee to hold and manage trust assets on behalf of trust beneficiaries; to control the use of those assets; and to place conditions which must be met before a beneficiary can receive a distribution from the trust. A living trust can also be used to establish a third-person special needs trust that can, when properly drafted and administered, help to provide for a disabled individual while still maintaining eligibility for various government benefits.

Finding an Estate Planning Attorney in Utah

Utah Wills Trusts & Estate Planning Attorney Salt Lake The information presented on this page is general in nature and should no be treated as legal advice. If you have questions about the estate planning process in Utah or want to create an estate plan or modify an existing estate plan, consultation with an attorney is strongly advised. We work closely with clients to ensure that we understand their individual and family needs and goals, and then create a personalized estate plan to help meet those goals. Contact us today to see how the right attorney can help you.