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What are the Differences Between Wills and Trusts?

Choose Which Works Best for Your Needs

When putting together your estate plan, one of the key decisions you will need to make is whether you should have a will or a trust. Both documents work similarly yet are very different from one another, so which one should you choose? Read our blog to learn about each option.


A will works to pass down assets according to how you want them distributed. They can also be used to name a person as the guardian of any children. When created, the will’s creator (known as the testator) names a person as the “executor” of the estate; this person will act as the representative for the deceased and will work with the probate court to pay off any debts left behind by the testator as well as gather the assets and work toward distributing them.


While trusts act very similarly to wills in that they are a means of passing down assets from one person to another, they actually create a new fiduciary relationship between the trust's creator (known as the grantor) and beneficiaries. The grantor can appoint someone to be a trustee who will manage the assets named in the trust in the event that the grantor becomes unable to do so or passes away.

Primary Differences

One of the key differences between wills and trusts is that trusts do not have to go through probate, whereas most wills do. A trust also provides a family more privacy, because the estate does not go through probate and does not become part of the public record.

Some smaller differences include when each document becomes effective and the complexity and cost of putting one together. Trusts are generally more complex and therefore have a higher cost to create compared to wills. In addition, trusts are effective from the moment they are created, whereas wills are effective upon the testator’s passing.

Work with an Estate Planning Attorney

If you are unsure of whether a will or trust better suits your needs, it’s important to speak with an attorney who understands estate planning guidelines and can help you determine the best course of action. The team at Pacific Cascade Legal can help you put together an estate plan that meets your needs and the needs of your family; when planning for the future, know that we can help.

Get in touch with our estate planning attorneys by calling us at (888) 981-9511 or by visiting our website.