Everyone has heard of wills and trusts. Most articles are written on these topics, however, presume that everyone understands the differences between these options.  In reality, many of us don’t – and with good reason – wills and trusts are rooted in complicated, centuries-old laws.

Will. A will is a written document that is signed and witnessed. A will is considered a “death” document as it only goes into effect when you die.

Trust. A trust is a legal document, signed and witnessed, and effective during your lifetime, during any period of disability, and after death. Because the trust is effective during your lifetime and you can change it, so it’s referred to as a “living” document.

One key element in deciding between a wills and a trusts is understanding their effect on the probate process. 

Probate. The term “probate” – which literally means “proving” – and refers to the process wherein a decedent’s will must be authenticated, outstanding legitimate debts paid, and assets transferred to the beneficiaries.

Everyone’s situation is different, so it is important to analyze every aspect of your situation – and what the future may hold –so that you can determine what’s right for you and understanding wills vs. trusts.

Act now. Without an estate plan in place, you and your family are left completely unprotected. Call our office now and we’ll help you determine whether a will or a trust makes sense for your situation. You don’t have to make these decisions alone.


  • Directs assets to beneficiaries.
  • Names guardians for minor children.
  • Names personal representative to settle estate.
  • Effective for small estates without minor children.
  • Can creates trust to accomplish after death planning


  • Provides control over property during lifetime.
  • Provides legacy after death: what, whom, when, and how.
  • Effective for families with minor children.
  • Provides planning for incapacity.  Can provide creditor, predator, and “spendthrift” protections.
  • Can provide planning for retirement, special needs, and SSI benefits.

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Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein. While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is a substitute for, qualified legal advice. Your review or receipt of this article by Lexern Law Offices, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.