Will vs. Trust: Everything You Need to Know About the Differences

Grandfather with his grandson

Wills and trusts both serve a similar purpose, i.e., transferring an estate to heirs. However, the two documents differ from each other in substantial ways. Understanding their differences and their goals can help you make an informed decision regarding your estate transfer.

Moreover, some laws define these documents differently in different states. So, for instance, if you’re in Chico, CA, a Wills and Trusts attorney will guide you according to California laws.

As far as wills and trusts are concerned, it’s important to know that according to courts in California, wills should be in writing, signed by the testator, and have two witnesses to be valid. Similarly, in California, properties in a living trust are transferrable without going to court.

But what exactly are a will and a trust, and how are they different? Let’s find out!


What is a Will?

When we talk about a will, we’re commonly referring to a testamentary will. A will is a legally enforceable document that states how to handle your affairs and how to distribute your assets once you die.

A testamentary will may also include information about how to hold your funeral or memorial. There’s no denying that a will is an important document when it comes to estate planning. However, it’s worth mentioning that wills in California need not be notarized.

While you can find online tools to make your will, it’s highly recommended you reach out to wills and trusts attorney to draft and finalize a will. It’s worth remembering that wills cannot be operational during life and only take place after death, which is why a trust might be better suited to your needs.


What is a Trust?

Much like a will, trusts are also used for estate transfer, but they work quite differently. Essentially, a trust is a fiduciary relationship that gives a third party the authority to handle your assets for your beneficiaries.

There are several ways to create a trust, and there are many different types of trusts. Typically, there are two types of trusts: living and testamentary. You can also create a revocable living trust which is designed to avoid probate court.

Wills vs. Trusts: How They Differ

Although both wills and trusts are used to deal with estate transfer, they offer a different set of benefits, depending on what you need.

A will document

For instance, wills in California are only officially recognized by admitting the will to probate. Essentially, the court issues an order if it finds the will valid. Trusts, on the other hand, don’t require probate to be declared valid. Therefore, you can administer a trust without needing to open the probate.

On the other hand, trusts also offer a certain degree of flexibility as you can include sub-trusts to hold assets for your beneficiaries. This is especially beneficial if you have minor children or grandchildren, and the sub-trust can hold the assets until they come of age.

Moreover, you can also include provisions in the trust to ensure the beneficiaries use the Trust funds for education or health until the requisite age. Essentially, you can have any terms or provisions you want in a trust.

Conclusion: An Experienced Attorney Can Help You Make the Right Choice

In conclusion, trusts are far more versatile and can help you plan not only for death but also for life. Wills don’t offer the same versatility, but they are easier to create than trust. If you’re confused about which one you need, it’s better to consult a will and trust attorney.

At Marquez Law Offices, we have reliable and competent wills and trusts attorneys in Chico, CA. We can handle all your wills, trusts, and probate issues to make estate transfer smooth and easy for you and your loved ones. Get in touch now to learn more.



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