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Bombarded by conflicting messages from alleged “experts”? When it comes to doing a will or a trust, some experts say: “Everyone needs a trust.” While other experts say: “Everyone needs a will.” What’s the difference between a trust and a will? Why am I hearing that I must have one or the other? What am I missing out on by choosing one or the other? Which one wins?

This One-Page Takeaway (OPT) focuses on the difference between wills and revocable trusts or “living” trusts. To find out what happens if you do not have either a will or a trust, please click on the OPT: The Zero Planning Option.

Wills

Trusts

Which Wins?

Avoids Probate

No Yes Your family must file with the probate court even if you have a will so that your chosen executor can be approved.

Private

No Yes Wills are filed publicly with the probate court.

Easy to Object or Contest?

Yes No To object in probate court you need only a notepad, a pen and $2.00 for filing. To object to a trust, you file a lawsuit and pay a fee ($200+).

Easy To Update

No Yes A trust is easier because you only need a notary to make it official. You need at least two witnesses to amend a will and it’s better to have a notary too.

Moved to Another State – Are Changes Required?

More Less Trusts usually say that the laws of the state where they are created apply to their administration. But, in GA and other states, the laws of the state where the trust is being administered or owns property apply. It’s best to have your documents reviewed by an attorney in any state where you might relocate.

Continuous Control and Management of Property

No Yes Executors/Administrators must be approved by the probate court before acting on behalf of the descendant which take 6-9 weeks. Successor trustees of a trust continue management seamlessly.

Owners of Property in More than one State

No Yes If you own property in more than one state (i.e., you have a FL beach house and a GA house), you want to use a trust. If you have a will, you will have to file with two probate courts, pay filing fees, appear, and file in two states. It’s double the trouble.

Cost

More Less The cost for creating a trust with Wilson Legal is less that the cost to draft and probate a will. We believe estate planning is important for families regardless of wealth. Lower income families have missed out on the advantages of trusts simply because they assume trusts are only for rich people.

Works for Disabled Loved Ones (special needs)

Maybe Yes For loved ones who are currently disabled, a trust is often best because you can provide a continuum of care without interruption and additionally protect funds from being counted as resources disqualifying our loved one from state and/or federal benefit programs. People with disabled loved ones should talk to an attorney with experience in the area of special needs to find out what options and strategies are best.