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What are the difference between wills and trusts?

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2024 | Estate Planning

When planning for the future, it is important to consider how other people will distribute your assets after you die. Two common legal tools used for this purpose are wills and trusts.

While both serve similar purposes, they have distinct differences that can significantly impact how people carry your wishes out.


A will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets distributed upon your death. It allows you to pick beneficiaries for specific items or sums of money and appoint an executor to carry out your wishes. One of the primary advantages of a will is its simplicity and accessibility. It is relatively easy to create and change a will.

However, it is important to note that a will must go through the probate process, which is the legal procedure for validating the document and distributing assets. Probate can be time-consuming and costly, and the proceedings are public. Additionally, a will only takes effect after your death, so it does not offer any protection or management of assets during your lifetime.


Unlike a will, a trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to transfer assets to a trustee, who holds and manages them on behalf of your beneficiaries. One significant advantage of a trust is that it can take effect during your lifetime, allowing you to maintain control over your assets even if you become incapacitated.

Unlike wills, which become part of the public record during probate, trusts are private documents that typically do not require court involvement for asset distribution. This can provide added protection for your beneficiaries. You can also specify conditions that must happen before beneficiaries receive their inheritance, such as reaching a certain age or completing a specific milestone.

The best option for you will depend on your individual circumstances and goals. Either way, this knowledge can help you navigate the complexities of estate planning.