A Will goes into effect only after you die, while a Living Trust takes effect as soon as you create it.
A Will is a document that directs who will receive your “probate” property at your death; it appoints an executor to carry out your wishes; and names a guardian for your children.
Assets added to a Living Trust are not subject to probate (court) review upon death, if they have been transferred into the Trust prior to death. They are also more private because they do not have to be filed in probate court and are generally not a matter of public record.
Trusts can be used to spread out payments for your children’s future expenses (i.e. college, weddings, health care, etc.) over time; reduce the hassle and cost of probate court for loved ones; protect assets while alive but incapacitated; and protect against variances in state laws when people move.
It is possible to create a Trust under a Will rather than through a separate stand-alone Trust Agreement, but many of the benefits of a Living Trust would be lost.
Our blog post introduces the Living Trust and explains how they work.