When an Alberta resident makes a will, the assets will typically be distributed as per his or her wishes. However, establishing trusts, along with wills and estates, can simplify what is typically a complicated process. A trust will even allow the testator to transfer assets before his or her death.
The difference is that a trust is a separate legal entity that actually owns the assets transferred into it. The trustor can put real estate, bank accounts, mutual fund units, stocks, bonds and private business assets in the trust. A claim to challenge a will can be filed in an Alberta court of law while a trust’s terms are significantly more difficult to contest. Furthermore, a trust is not subject to the probate process like a will, which makes the details of the will available for the public.
Establishing a revocable living trust allows the testator to revoke or change the trust’s terms as he or she wishes. A trustee is appointed to manage the trust and distribute the assets as described in the trust, either while the trustor is alive or becomes incapacitated, or after the testator’s death. Another option is for the trust maker and his or her spouse to act as trustees while still alive. If the testator dies and the spouse takes over as trustee, the trust will become irrevocable. From then on, only limited alterations to the terms of the trust may be made.
Many people find the prospect of attending to wills and estates daunting, but help is available. Retaining the services of an experienced Alberta lawyer in this field of the law can simplify the entire process. Legal counsel can assess the client’s needs and wishes and explain the various options to allow the client to make informed decisions. The lawyer can then ensure that the necessary documents are drawn up in accordance with the client’s wishes.