The Difference Between a Will and a Living Trust

A will and a living trust are some of the most common estate planning tools. Both have unique benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to understand the difference between them before deciding which is right for you. As a property owner with potential beneficiaries, you need to have sufficient information about these two tools so that you can have sufficient information on the direction to take.

What Is a Living Trust?

A living trust, also known as an inter vivos or revocable trust, is a legal document created by you (the settlor) during your lifetime. You transfer ownership of your assets to the trust, which a trustee then manages for the benefit of your beneficiaries. Unlike a will, a living trust does not go through probate upon your death. This means that your beneficiaries can avoid the time and expense of probate court.

What Is a Will?

A will is a legal document that dictates how your property should be distributed after death. Unlike a living trust, a will must go through probate, a legal process that can be time-consuming and expensive. Probate can also be a public process, which means that the details of your will are available for anyone to see.

So, What’s The Difference Between a Will and A Living Trust?

The key difference between a will and a living trust is that a will must go through probate, while a living trust does not. Probate can be time-consuming and expensive, so a living trust can be a good option if you want to avoid probate. Another difference is that a living trust is revocable, which means you can change it at any time, while a will is irrevocable, which means it cannot be changed after it has been signed.

Another key difference is that assets held in a living trust pass to your beneficiaries immediately upon death. In contrast, assets held in a will do not pass to your beneficiaries until after the probate process has been completed. This can be a significant advantage if you have concerns about asset protection or estate taxes.

Why Is a Living Trust as Important as a Will?

While a will is an important estate planning tool, a living trust offers certain advantages that a will does not. First, as mentioned above, a living trust avoids probate. Probate can be time-consuming and expensive, so avoiding it can be a significant advantage. Second, a living trust is revocable, which means you can change it anytime. This is not the case with a will, which is irrevocable once signed. This flexibility can be important if your circumstances change or if you change your mind about how you want your assets to be distributed.


As you can see, there are important differences between a will and a living trust. Which one is right for you depends on your circumstances. If you’re unsure which, estate planning tool is right for you, it’s important to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you make the best decision for your needs. Contact Medina & Company Consulting, Inc. today to schedule a consultation.