When it comes to estate planning, making the right decisions is critical. Knowing the difference between a will and a revocable living trust is an important step you can take to ensure your wishes are fulfilled and your legacy lives on. In this blog post, we'll discuss why it's essential to understand the differences between a will and a trust and how they can be used together to accomplish your goals.

What is a Will?

Will and Trust

A will is a legal document that establishes who will inherit your property after you die and takes effect only upon your death. A trust is a similar document, but it is used to avoid probate through the court system, making the process much easier for your beneficiaries and people you leave in charge of your estate. Knowing the difference between these two documents is crucial because they have different benefits and effects on your estate plan.

The main benefit of using a will over trust is that a will is that it is a more simplified process for drafting while you are alive, but will still allow you control over who inherits your property. Drafting a will can be a more simplified process  and therefore less expensive than establishing a trust. With both a will and a trust, you can make choices about who to leave assets to and specify how those assets should be distributed.

A Will also allows you to choose which individuals should manage specific aspects of your estate, such as finances or real estate holdings. If you do not create a will, state law determines who gets your property in your estate based on intestate succession rules. Yes, without a will or trust the state will determine who should receive your assets based on their relation to you - a good reason for many people to establish a will or trust. 

On the other hand, trust is a legal arrangement that has some advantages over wills when preserving wealth for future generations. Trusts can avoid costly probate proceedings by automatically transferring assets into qualified beneficiaries' names upon death without going through courts - something that would happen with a Will if no trust was in place. Trusts can also provide greater certainty about how an individual's assets will be accessed and used during their lifetime and after death. With a trust, the creator of the trust (aka settlor), can establish in advance how their assets would be managed during their life if they were no longer able to do so themselves, due to incapacity or otherwise. 

Ultimately, knowing the difference between wills and trusts is critical for making informed decisions about your estate planning needs and goals.

What are the Benefits of Creating a Will?

A will is a legal document that sets out your final wishes for what should happen to your possessions and estate after you die. It is not mandatory, but allows you to choose how you would like to pass property to your family and friends yourself rather than leaving that choice up to state law. A Will is often created with the help of an attorney. A will is legally binding at your death, but can be modified or revoked at any time during your life. 

There are many benefits to having a will:

  • You can manage your estate by specifying who gets what property and how it should be divided among your loved ones;

  • A well-drafted Will protects against challenges and family fighting for your assets, allowing what you've written in your will to stand despite family members not agreeing;

  • Wills can be easily revoked or changed during your lifetime;

  • A Will often reduces court costs and attorneys' fees associated with probate proceedings, saving you money in the long run.

One disadvantage of wills is that they must be filed with probate court (the county court that handles matters relating to estates), which can add time and expense to the process. A Will becomes public record when submitted to the court for the probate process, which can be a privacy issue or a source of embarrassment for beneficiaries or those left off the will. 

What is a Trust?

Will and Trust Signing

A trust, specifically a revocable living trust, is a legal document establishing the terms and conditions for distributing someone's assets after death. Trusts are often used as an estate planning tool because they often allow for more discretion in how assets are distributed and if properly funded, you can avoid the probate court entirely at your death. The extra step of creating a trust can be justified if you have a large or complicated estate or require more control over the distribution of your assets. Even a smaller estate can benefit from trust if you are leaving your loved ones in charge of your estate and want to make things easier for them at your passing. 

Some benefits of a trust include:

•         A trust can avoid the probate process, making the process easier for those you leave in charge            and for your beneficiaries;

•        Trusts can pass assets to beneficiaries over time, rather than all at once upon your death;

•        Trusts can be set up to provide assets and care for children or adults with special needs,                        without harming any government benefits that they may have or have in the future; and 

•        Trusts can be used to protect assets from third parties and creditors after your death. 

How Do You Choose Between a Will or Trust?

Will and Trust Attorney


The decision of whether to an estate plan, including a will or trust can be a complicated one, but there are many important factors to consider. For example, saying goodbye to your loved ones can be difficult, but knowing you have made provisions for their care helps alleviate some of the sadness.

A will is simply a written document that sets out how your property will be distributed after you die. When to use a will or a trust can depend on several factors, including the type of property you own, your age, and your marital status. 

When deciding whether to create a will or trust, it is important to speak with an attorney. An attorney can help you understand the benefits of each type of document and advise you on when to use each one.

Keeping Your Will or Trust Up to Date

Keeping your will or trust up to date is essential, as changes in your life may require adjustments. For example, if you have a child who gets married or has a baby, your will or trust should be updated to reflect these changes. Additionally, if your assets change, you may need to update your will or trust to distribute the assets after you die appropriately.

Some other things you may want to consider when updating your will or trust include: changing the beneficiaries; adding additional beneficiaries; adding limits or specifying how and when beneficiaries receive assets; revising how and when taxes are paid; and making any other amendments necessary for proper administration.

Who Can Help You Understand the Difference Between Wills and Trusts

Making financial decisions for your future and estate planning is integral to life. An experienced attorney can help guide you through this process so that you make an informed choice on what type of document best protects your needs while meeting any specific wishes or intentions to pass their legacy on to family members or charities they choose.

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