The Difference Between a Will & Trust

Yee Law Group Inc. > The Difference Between a Will & Trust

The majority of people have heard the terms “will” and “trust” being used in conversation. However, sometimes people do not realize there are actual differences between these two terms. Both are useful when creating a complete estate plan and can serve many purposes. In the article here, we have explained how these are not the same, and tips for writing your very own trust. At attorney can help you get started establishing a trust if you are unsure where to begin.

The Main Difference

The single factor that differentiates a trust from a will, is that a will comes into effect after you pass on, while a trust becomes effective as soon as it is created. Those who write a will are typically including who shall receive their property after passing, along with naming a representative to handle their wishes. On the other hand, when a trust is established it can be used to transfer property before the person passes away, at the time of passing or afterwards.

Which Avoids Probate

During probate, the court evaluates the validity of a will, and permits the executor to handle the estate based on the decedent’s preferences. A trust does not have to be overseen by the courts, which can save substantial amount of time and money. Probate can take a few months up to a year, or even longer. It is possible for a will to be tied up in court if there was an error in the probate paperwork, or a family member files a dispute. A trust also remains private, while a will can become part of public record due to being part of a court process.

Tips for Creating a Trust

Before writing a trust, there are a few tasks you should complete. As this is likely one of the most important pieces of documentation you will create in your lifetime, do ensure it reflects your true wishes. A brief list of tasks to perform when getting starting establish a trust can include:

  1. Making a list of all your assets, belongings & treasures
  2. Gathering paperwork regarding your assets (including titles, deeds, life insurance policies, stock certificates, etc.)
  3. Choosing beneficiaries to receive a part of your legacy
  4. Appointing a successor trustee (a person who will handle finances & distribute assets after you pass away)
  5. Appointing a guardian for minor children

How an Attorney Can Help

A wills lawyer St. Peters, Missouri residents trust can offer advice and guidance as you write your trust. Having the support of a legal professional can help you feel more at ease about this very important process. It may seem easy enough to create a document listing your desires, but many people find it is more challenging than they originally thought.


Thank you to our friends and contributors from Legacy Law Center for their insight into estate planning, wills, and trusts.

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