Often, the terms wills and trusts are used as synonyms – with many people assuming that these two words mean the same thing. While there are similarities between these estate planning tools, they serve distinct purposes. The best solution is to talk to an estate planning attorney for information and advice about the right way to prepare for the future.

Differences Between Wills and Trusts

Here are a few differences you need to know about these legal documents:

  • Timing: A trust goes into effect immediately when it is created and finalized. On the other hand, a will doesn’t go into effect until after you die.
  • Distributing Property: Your will outlines how your property should be distributed after your death, with a specific legal representative that carries out your wishes. A trust is a little different since the property distribution can happen either before or after death.
  • Probate: A will must pass through probate, with a court overseeing the administration. A trust doesn’t need to go through probate, which can help a family save time and money.
  • Public Record: When a will goes through probate, it becomes a public record. You can maintain privacy with a trust if you don’t want it to be shared as public record.
  • Beneficiaries: The beneficiaries listed in a will receive property after your death. But two types of beneficiaries can be listed in a trust. For example, the trustee might distribute income to you while you are alive, then the remainder of the trust is distributed to other beneficiaries after you pass away.

There are advantages and disadvantages to wills and trusts. The best way to determine the right course of action is by talking to an attorney about your individual situation. At Mortellaro Law, we offer full-service estate planning that is always personalized for each client. You’re invited to book a free consultation by calling us at 813-367-1500 or booking an appointment using our online form.