Understanding Wills and Trusts

18 April 2024
 Categories: Law, Blog

When it comes to planning for the future, many people often overlook the importance of having a will or trust in place. However, these legal documents can play a crucial role in protecting your assets and ensuring your wishes are carried out after your passing.

What Is a Will?

A will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. It allows you to name beneficiaries who will inherit your property and other assets, as well as appoint an executor who will oversee the distribution of your estate.

Some key points to note about wills are:

  • They only take effect after your death.
  • Wills can be amended or revoked at any time during your lifetime.
  • They go through the probate process, which can be lengthy and expensive.

What Is a Trust?

A trust, on the other hand, is a legal arrangement where you transfer ownership of your assets to a trustee who will manage them on behalf of your beneficiaries. There are different types of trusts, but the two main categories are revocable and irrevocable trusts.

Some important things to know about trusts include:

  • Trusts can be set up during your lifetime or established through your will.
  • They can help you avoid probate, which means your assets can be distributed to your beneficiaries more quickly and privately.
  • Trusts can also provide asset protection for your beneficiaries, as they do not directly own the assets.

Wills vs. Trusts: Key Differences

Now that you have a general understanding of what wills and trusts are, here's a closer look at their differences:

Distribution of Assets

One of the main differences between wills and trusts is how they distribute assets. Wills only come into effect after your death, while trusts can be used to manage and distribute assets during your lifetime and after you pass away.


Wills go through the probate process, which is a court-supervised process that makes the details of your estate public record. Trusts, on the other hand, do not go through probate and can provide more privacy for your family.

Control Over Assets

With a will, you control how your assets will be distributed after your death. However, once a trust is established, you no longer have direct control over the assets, as they are owned by the trust.

In conclusion, both wills and trusts play important roles in estate planning. They can help protect your assets and ensure that your wishes are carried out after your passing. It's crucial to understand the differences between these two legal documents and consult with an attorney to determine which option is best for you.

Contact a law firm in your area like Zapolis & Associates, P.C. to learn more.