The Difference Between a Will and a Living Trust

The-Difference-Between-a-Will-and-a-Living-TrustPlanning for the end of life is a natural thing that most people begin to think about when their kids are no longer kids. Even though the process itself does not take very long, there is a great deal of research that needs to be done beforehand to ensure you are setting up the right documentation for your personal assets and circumstances.

This article provides information on two different legal documents that are often used interchangeably but mean very different things: wills and trusts. We encourage you to review this information and contact us if you are still unsure which one is best for your circumstances.

Will vs. Living Trust: What is the Difference?

Wills and living trusts are both estate planning documents used to pass assets on to beneficiaries at death. However, there are distinct differences between the two. Nolo, a library of consumer-friendly legal information, has put together an overview chart that clearly depicts the differences between the two. A living trust helps you avoid probate. You can’t use a living trust to name an executor or guardians for your children. You need a will to do those things.

Benefits of Having a Living Trust

The main benefit of having a living trust is that it is private, unlike a will which becomes a matter of public record. This can be beneficial if there are family or individuals you would rather not have a full accounting of your property upon death. Also, this can avoid family disputes that may happen after a death when there is arguing over inheritance or if individuals make claims to certain properties and assets. Another benefit of setting up a living trust is that it can help avoid probate and protects you from court challenges and conservatorship.  

Related Article: What is the Probate Process if You Die Without A Will or Trust?

Benefits of a Will

Compared to living trusts, wills are considerably less time-consuming to establish, involve less ongoing maintenance, and are not as difficult to modify. Also, if you decide to choose to create a living trust, you’ll still need a simple will, as a back-up device. Simply put – you’ll be setting up a will no matter what to protect your property. If you have younger children, you will need a will because the document allows you to name guardians for your children.  

Deciding the Right Choice For You

Most people need a will, but not everyone needs a living trust. Whether or not you need a living trust depends on your age, how wealthy you are, and whether you’re married.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your situation, please contact us.

4 Responses

  • My sister has been thinking about getting a living trust in order to be a lot safer. She would really like to get some help from a professional to make sure that it is set up correctly could be really useful. I liked what you said about how a living will be private, so that others can’t have a full account of the property upon death.

  • I liked it when you shared that it is great to consider a living trust since it is more private so you can ensure that some family or individuals won’t have a full accounting of your property upon death. My friend just mentioned the other day that he is worried about his family in case he passes away since his sister might take all his possessions all to herself without living some to his children. I will suggest to him hiring a reliable service that can help him set up a living trust before he passes away.

  • Wow, I never knew that a living trust could help diffuse any arguments your family members may have on your assets upon your death. I wondered why people need a living trust after seeing the term in one of the newspapers I read yesterday. I’ll probably think about this more once I end up owning more assets in the future.

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