Home Plan Your Estate Will or Trust? Nine Common Estate
Planning Mistakes
Find Us

Will or Trust?
832 Munsel Creek Loop
Florence,  OR  97439 
Phone: (541) 997-8114  
Fax: (503) 828-9515


Compare Wills and Revocable Trusts

A number of variables affect the decision whether to conduct your estate planning through a will or through a living trust. No single factor ever decides the question. My advice will be based on your entire situation.

The chart below will allow you to compare wills and revocable living trusts as primary estate-planning tools.

Factors Tending to Favor Will
over Living Trust
Will Living Trust
Ease of implementation Usually very easy; no retitling of assets, but beneficiary changes often are necessary More difficult, requiring complete asset inventory and retitling of assets
Cost to prepare and implement Usually $475 to $700 for a couple Usually $1,300 to $1,600, including retitling assets
Ease of maintenance Periodic review, every few years Constant attention to maintaining title of assets in name of trust
Opportunity for fraud on beneficiaries Court and attorney supervision reduces chance of fraud by personal representative Lack of court supervision enhances opportunity for fraud by successor trustee
Age of client Appropriate for any age (must be 18) Usually inappropriate for younger clients because of higher initial cost, long-delayed savings, and need for lifelong attention to funding details

Factors Tending to Favor Living Trust
over Will
Will Living Trust
Necessity of court-supervised probate Court-supervised probate process after death. usually necessary upon death of second spouse, but often not necessary upon first spouse's death Usually unnecessary, unless cause of death is someone else's negligence or not all assets are in the trust
Delay in distribution of financial assets 8-12 months in most situations (except life insurance), can be much longer, but advance distributions can be made, if needed Nearly immediate distribution of most assets in most situations, but final distribution will often be delayed for several months
Disability of dependent Can include trust for disabled dependent, but does not operate until client's death Can include provisions for disabled dependent that operates during client's lifetime
Real estate in more than one state Probate costs in each state where real estate located Probate not necessary to transfer title to real estate
Challenges to estate plan by disgruntled family Mandatory notice to heirs increases likelihood of challenge Lack of requirement to notify heirs, need of heir to file independent court action may reduce chance of suit. However, keeping plan secret from heirs may have the opposite result, as litigation is only way to force disclosure of estate plan
Professional fees following death Probate often means higher legal fees; accounting fees comparable to trust Usually lower legal fees; accounting fees comparable to will  
Privacy Not private - court files open to public inspection Private - no court file open to public inspection