Wills and trusts: What’s the diff?

N1712 P58006 C

By Patricia Nugent

Attorney Margaret T. Karl has provided estate planning and elder law services for over 15 years in the Cleveland area. She considers educating people through informative seminars within the community to be an essential part of her job. At the end of most seminars, she opens the discussion for questions from the audience.

One of the most common topics people are interested in is the difference between wills and trusts.

“There’s a lot of confusion,” she explains. “People often think needing a trust is attached to being worth a certain dollar amount…that they are only for wealthy people. But that’s not usually the case. A will is a legal document that states who will receive your assets at the time of your death. A trust goes a step further to address special circumstances. It is a legal document in which you appoint a trustee to manage and hold title to your assets. That person is responsible for distributing them to your beneficiaries.”

Some of the special circumstances she has encountered over the years include parents wanting to have someone protect their assets if their children are minors, or have special needs, or they may have an adult child they don’t trust to handle a lump sum of money, so they spread it out.

“Whichever would best suit the client’s situation, it’s important to have a will or trust in place so your wishes are carried out,” she says.

Attorney Margaret T. Karl is located at 25800 North Depot Street, Suite 102, in Olmsted Falls. Call 440-782-5051or visit OlmstedOhioLaw.com.