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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

What's the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

“Will” and “Trust” have quite different meanings outside of legal jargon, so we know these concepts can be a little confusing.  Here are a few major differences between a will and a trust:

A will is like a roadmap for your wishes after you pass away.  It comes into effect when a death certificate is present.  Even with a will, your estate will go through probate, the court process that distributes your assets after death.  Probate costs money and takes time, but it is significantly easier with a will that helps the judge navigate the process.  It’s also worthwhile to note that the probate process is public.

A trust is an entity that holds your assets.  With a Revocable Living Trust, you have complete control over your trust, so you can revoke it, rewrite it, and amend it while you are alive.  When you die, your trust does not–it continues to own your assets, and the control of the assets transfers to the trustees without involving a court.  In addition to avoiding probate, trusts can also help reduce taxes and help with charitable giving goals. Trusts are private and can be useful for those who want to keep their wishes out of the public eye.

While many people have the impression that a trust is only for the rich, there are many reasons a person might prefer a trust to a will.   The most important thing is to work with a qualified attorney who can help you make an educated decision.

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