A main goal of many Michigan estate owners is to execute an estate plan that helps loved ones avoid probate litigation. There are many types of documents, and determining which ones to incorporate into a specific plan or which to leave out can be a daunting task, especially for someone who is not well-versed in estate and probate issues. Two common types of estate planning documents are a revocable trust and a last will and testament.

Understanding these two documents can help an estate owner determine how to use them to help accomplish estate planning goals. While the two documents are different in several ways, they are often simultaneously incorporated into an estate plan. A main difference between a last will and testament and a revocable trust is that the former is a public document while the latter is private. A will must pass through the probate system in court, but a trust does not have to be probated.

Especially concerning future financial provision for minors after an estate owner’s death, a revocable trust can be set up to distribute assets incrementally throughout the minor’s life. Another benefit of a trust is that assets may be transferred before an estate owner dies whereas distribution of assets listed in a last will and testament can only take place after the estate owner’s passing. With regard to being challenged, it is much more difficult to challenge a trust than it is to challenge a will.

A revocable trust can be revoked during the creator’s lifetime, hence the reason it is named as such. As with a will, a trust may include savings or checking account assets, as well as real estate, investments, family heirlooms and more. Any Michigan resident with questions about probate litigation, revocable trusts or wills may request a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney to obtain information and legal support.