Living Trust vs Will

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Living trusts entrust asset management and distribution to a trustee, while wills appoint an executor to oversee the estate and allocate assets per your wishes. Living trust or will - which one do you choose? Estate planning allows your assets to be distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. Two popular options for estate planning are living trusts and wills. Both the terms have their own unique advantages and disadvantages and you need to have an in-depth analysis before making a choice.

Key Aspects of Living Trusts and Wills

A living trust refers to a legal document that outlines how your assets will be distributed after you pass away. With a living trust, you transfer your assets into the trust and appoint a trustee to manage the trust. When you pass away, the trustee distributes your assets according to your wishes.

A will, on the other hand, refers to a legal document outlining how your assets will be distributed after you pass away. With a will, you appoint an executor to manage your estate and distribute your assets according to your wishes.

Pros and Cons of a Living Trust


  • Living trusts avoid probate, which is the legal process of distributing assets after someone passes away. Probate can be time-consuming and costly for many people.
  • Living trusts provide more privacy than wills. Trusts are not part of public record, so your assets and beneficiaries are kept private.
  • Living trusts can help you avoid conservatorship. If you become incapacitated, the trustee can manage the trust on your behalf without the need for a court-appointed conservator.
  • Living trusts can provide flexibility in how assets are distributed to beneficiaries. For example, you can specify that a certain amount of money be given to a beneficiary at a certain age, or that distributions be made over a period of time.


  • Living trusts are more expensive than wills. You may need to hire a lawyer to set up the trust, which can be costly.
  • Living trusts require more ongoing maintenance than wills. You need to keep the trust updated with changes in your assets and beneficiaries.
  • Living trusts may not provide the same level of control as wills. If you want to retain full control over your assets, a will may be a better option.
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Pros and Cons of a Will


  • Wills are generally less expensive to set up than living trusts. You can create your will with the help of an attorney.
  • Wills are simpler to maintain than living trusts. You can easily update your will if your wishes change.
  • Wills provide a clear and straightforward way to distribute assets. You can control the distribution of your assets.


  • Wills go through probate, which can be costly, time-consuming, and public.
  • Wills provide less privacy than living trusts. Your will becomes part of the public record, so your assets and beneficiaries are not kept private.
  • Wills may not provide flexibility in how assets are distributed. For example, you cannot specify that a certain amount of money be given to a beneficiary at a certain age.

Essential Differences between a Living Trust and a Will

Creating a comprehensive estate plan ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your passing. Two different but unique options for estate planning are living trusts and wills. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to understand the differences between them to determine which option is best for your situation.

  • Cost

    One of the primary factors to consider between a living trust and a will is the cost. Wills are generally less expensive to set up than living trusts. This is because wills do not require the same level of ongoing management and oversight that living trusts do. However, keep in mind that a will does require probate, which can be costly.

  • Flexibility

    Living trusts may be a better option if you want more flexibility in how your assets are distributed to beneficiaries. With a living trust, you can specify exactly how and when your assets are distributed. You can also designate a successor trustee to manage the trust in the event of your incapacity or death. This can be beneficial if you have complex or unique distribution wishes.

  • Control

    A will allows you to retain full control over your assets during your lifetime. You have the ability to make changes or revoke your will at any time, which can be beneficial if your circumstances change. On the other hand, once assets are transferred to a living trust, they are no longer considered part of your estate. This means that you may lose some control over your assets, as they will be managed by the trustee of the trust.

  • Privacy

    Another factor to consider when deciding between a living trust and a will is privacy. Wills are public documents that must go through probate, which means that the details of your estate will be available to the public. In contrast, a living trust refers to a private document which is not subject to probate. This can be beneficial if you value privacy or want to keep the details of your estate confidential.

    So, the decision of whether to choose a living trust or a will ultimately depends on your personal situation and preferences. Consider the factors above, as well as any other relevant factors such as taxes, family dynamics, and the complexity of your assets, when making your decision. It may also be beneficial to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan is comprehensive and tailored to your specific needs.

    Ultimately, both living trusts and wills can be effective tools for estate planning. The key is to choose the option that best aligns with your goals and preferences. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can create a comprehensive estate plan that provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Key Terms for Living Trusts and Wills

  • Living Trust: A legal document that allows assets to be transferred to a trustee during your lifetime, who then manages them for the benefit of your beneficiaries.
  • Will: A legal document that specifies how your assets will be distributed after your death.
  • Cost: Wills are generally less expensive to set up than living trusts, but may be more expensive to administer due to probate costs.
  • Flexibility: Living trusts offer more flexibility in how your assets are distributed to beneficiaries, while wills are less flexible but allow for changes to be made more easily.
  • Control: A will allows you to retain full control over your assets during your lifetime, while a living trust means you may lose some control over your assets once they are transferred to the trust.

Final Thoughts on Living Trusts and Wills

Both living trusts and wills are important estate planning tools that allow you to control how your assets are distributed after your death.

If you want to minimize costs, a will may be a better option. If you want more flexibility in how your assets are distributed, a living trust may be a better option. Additionally, if you are concerned about privacy, a living trust may be preferable as it avoids the public probate process.

It's important to note that both living trusts and wills should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure they accurately reflect your current wishes and life circumstances. Consulting with a qualified estate planning attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the process and ensure that your wishes are carried out. Ultimately, the choice between a living trust and a will is a personal one, and should be made after careful consideration of your specific circumstances and goals.

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