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What’s the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

Many people think that Wills and Trusts are the same thing. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are similarities, there are some very important differences. 

A Will is a very basic document that simply expresses the wishes of the deceased to the Probate Court. It does not avoid probate. The Executor who oversees distribution of the estate assets must follow a strict set of guidelines, keep meticulous records and report every action to the Probate Court for approval. As such, these actions and the contents of the estate are a public record, in other words, they are NOT private. Any estate that is probated may be accessible to the public and with the convenience of the internet today, anyone may be able to access the details of a probated estate in many counties from the comfort of their own home!

The assets of a Trust, on the other hand, completely avoid probate and are not public. The Trustee, who is generally appointed by the person who made the Trust (often called the Trust Maker, Settlor or Grantor), distributes the estate according to the wishes of the Trust Maker which are outlined in the Trust. The Trustee does not have to report to the Probate Court and consequently the estate can remain private. Although there is usually more up-front cost to set up a Trust, the execution at death is generally easier, less expensive and quicker to 

All estates are different, and there are many different types of Trusts that can be created in order to best suit your wishes after you pass away. 

Is a Trust right for you? Come to a free, educational webinar to find out more about wills and trusts by visiting our workshops page here