I’m often asked what’s the difference between a will and a trust. While they both control your property they are very different documents.

A will is a document that indicates how your property will be distributed after your death and allows you to appoint a Personal Representative to carry out your wishes. A living trust is an arrangement that transfers your property to trust ownership.

Having both these legal documents will save your family time and money after your death. In both of these documents, you can name beneficiaries for your property and always make changes to them until the time of your death as long as you remain mentally competent.

One main difference between a will and a living trust is that a will goes into effect after your death while a trust goes into effect as soon as you sign it. A will is a public document that is required to go through probate where the court ensures that the will is valid and that your property is distributed according to your will. On the contrary, a living trust is private document where property can pass to beneficiaries without probate. In addition, a trust can privately manage assets if the grantor becomes disabled, but the will does not have provisions for disability. However, a will allows you to make specific arrangements for your minor children and your funeral, while a trust does not. You must transfer your property into a trust and real estate must be retitled so that the owner of the property is the trust. No transfer of property is required when using a will.

Even though there are major differences between these two legal documents, both can work together to create a complete estate plan.