What is the difference between a will and a trust?

Updated: Feb 4

Hands down, our office is asked this question the most:

What is the difference between a will and a trust?

Let's go over some of the main differences.

Last Will and Testament. More formally known as a last will and testament, a will is a type of estate planning document used to direct what should happen to a person's estate after death. This document can include, but is not limited to, bequests to beneficiaries, tax planning provisions, charitable giving provisions, and conditions on how an inheritance should be used. After death, the last will and testament is filed with the court and the personal representative petitions the court to open probate. Probate is a court procedure used to administer an estate. Since probate is a court procedure, the estate administration records are available to the public.

Revocable Living Trust. Typically, when folks ask about a 'trust,' they are referring to a revocable living trust, and that's the type of trust covered in this blog post. A revocable living trust can include many of the same provisions as a last will and testament. However, trusts, when set up correctly, do not have to go through probate. This is the main reason many opt for a revocable living trust over solely using a last will and testament. Another practical consideration, folks with assets in multiple states are often advised to go with a revocable living trust to avoid multiple probates.

Summary of Key Differences:

  • revocable living trusts avoid probate

  • revocable living trusts require more set up than wills

  • revocable living trusts maintain privacy of the decedent since probate is not required

  • wills go through probate

  • wills are quicker and easier to set up than trusts

Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By accessing this blog site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Sekhon Law, PLLC. This post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.