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What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

 Posted on October 27, 2021 in Estate Planning Blog

lombard estate planning lawyerWhile wills and trusts are both ways to pass money and property to your survivors, there are a few major differences. For example, a will has no effect until the testator has passed away, while a trust takes effect immediately. Many strong estate plans use a combination of a will and a trust, or trusts, as a way to make sure everything is covered. It is important to work closely with a qualified estate planning attorney, who can help you determine whether your ideal estate plan includes a will, trust, or both. 

What are the Major Differences Between Wills and Trusts? 

When you begin working on your estate plan, your attorney will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of both wills and trusts to help you decide what is best for your individual situation. A few key differences are: 

  • Timing - A will and trust take effect at different times. A living trust may immediately transfer ownership of any property you place in the trust to the trust. A will, on the other hand, has no legal effect whatsoever until you have passed away. 

  • Probate - Property and money bequeathed in a will must pass through probate. The probate process can be long, time-consuming, and expensive. For this reason, some clients and lawyers alike prefer to pass property through a trust, which avoids probate altogether. 

  • Flexibility - There are numerous types of trusts. You can set up a trust to benefit your minor children, an adult with special needs, or even a beloved pet. Trusts may be revocable or irrevocable. Generally, there is much more flexibility when making a trust. 

  • Confidentiality - Because it has to be filed with a probate court, a will becomes public record and can be accessed by anyone, while a trust document can be kept private. The problem with a will being publicly accessible is the potential for legal challenges. It is easier to challenge a will one has access to than a trust one does not. 

  • Types of Property - A will can only be used to pass property the testator solely owns in his own name. It cannot include things like life insurance benefits or interest in property the testator jointly owns, such as a co-owned business. 

It is important to speak with an estate planning lawyer to determine which types of estate planning documents you should use. 

Call a DuPage County Lawyer for Wills and Trusts 

Whether you are ready to create a will or trust for the first time or are simply looking to improve or update your estate plan, A. Traub & Associates are here to help. Our Arlington Heights estate planning attorneys have the necessary experience to examine your unique individual situation and help you create the will or trust that is right for you. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation. 



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