A will can be described as a legal document, that states the manner in which a person’s assets, belongings, and personal stuff are distributed among the legal heirs, after his/her demise. On the other hand, a trust is a form of obligation attached to the ownership of the property, that is a result of confidence, accepted by the owner and author, for the benefit of another person or the owner.
As both are used to manage and distributes the assets of a person, many people get puzzled between the two. However, the principal difference between will and trust is that while the former becomes effective after the death of will owner, the latter is effective from the date it has been created. Check out some more differences between these two terms, in the article provided below.
Content: Will Vs Trust
|Basis for Comparison||Will||Trust|
|Meaning||A will contain a declaration of the testator, regarding the management and distribution of his personal estate.||A trust is a legal arrangement, in which the trustor authorizes a trustee to manage the transferred asset for the sake of beneficiary.|
|Covers||All the assets of testator's estate.||Specific asset, as stated in the deed.|
|Effective||On the demise of the testator.||On the transfer of asset to the trustee.|
|Probate||The will goes through probate.||The trust does not go through probate.|
|Revocation||Anytime before the death of the testator.||Depends on the type of trust.|
|Publicized||Yes, on the death of the owner.||No, it is kept private.|
Definition of Will
As the name suggests, a will refers to the wish. In legal terminology, will means a document that expresses the last wishes of a person. The person who created the will is known as a testator. The testator can appoint an executor who will oversee the transfer of a testator’s estate to his legal heir.
The will undergoes probate after the demise of the testator, in which court assures that the last wishes of will maker are carried out properly. It may also contain the directions or instructions regarding the use of testator’s asset after he passes away.
The will comes into effect only after the death of the testator. The testator has the right to revoke or alter the will anytime, before his death and of sound mind. If a person has created multiple wills for the distribution of his assets, then his ‘latest will’ will be executed. If a person dies without creating a will, then his property is designated to his legal heirs, as per the law of inheritance. Here, legal heirs refer to children, spouse, father, mother, etc.
Definition of Trust
A trust is defined as a legal arrangement, in which the trust owner authorises a person called a trustee, to hold the asset, for the benefit of a third party called the beneficiary. It allows a person to nominate beneficiaries of his assets, before or after he passes away. The document in which the terms of the trust are stated is known as the trust deed, and the subject matter is known as trust property.
A trust is created with the intention to reduce estate taxes. The best thing about trust is that it does not go through probate, i.e. there is no court process. It can be of two types i.e. revocable trust which can be altered or terminated any time during the life of the trust owner and an irrevocable trust in which the trust cannot be altered or cancelled once it comes into force.
The trust may contain the following facts:
- Objective of trust
- Assets covered
- Rights and limitations of trustee
- Compensation of trustee
- In case, if there are multiple beneficiaries, the proportion in which the asset is transferred to each beneficiary.
Key Differences Between Will and Trust
The basic differences between will and trust are described in the following points:
- A declaration regarding the management and distribution of the testator’s assets after his demise is known as Will. A trust, on the other hand, is a legal arrangement in which the settlor authorises a person as trustee to hold the asset for the sake of beneficiary.
- The Will itself is a document containing all the details. Conversely, the trust deed is executed, in the case of a trust.
- All the assets of the testator’s estate are covered under will whereas only a certain asset stated in the trust deed is transferred in trust.
- A will become effective only on the demise of the testator. Unlike, a trust which comes into effect, when the asset is transferred to the trustee.
- A will undergo through probate i.e. a process in which court checks the validity and looks after the administration of the will. As opposed to trust, which does not undergo through probate.
- A will can be revoked any time before the demise of the testator. In contrast to trust, in which revocation depends on the type of trust, i.e. in the case of a revocable trust, it can be revoked anytime during the lifetime of the author while an irrevocable trust cannot be revoked after it comes into effect.
- A will become a public document when the testator passes away. On the other end trust, is a private document.
Trust and Will, both are effective tools for estate planning that manage the transfer of assets, as they permit you to nominate a person to look after the transfer or distribution of assets to your loved ones. As will goes through probate, the transfer of asset takes more time than in the case of a trust.
Thank you for explaining the difference between a trust and a will. I actually want to set up a trust rather than a will for the control of my assets. Is it possible to make a will or trust no matter your age or amount of assets? Thanks in advance.
Surbhi S says
Sanjib Kumar Saha says
Can a will be made after the property is transferred to a trust(,Registered),when the deed of trust is not cancelled
Rebecca Gardner says
It was helpful when you explained that a will covers all of our assets and a trust only covers the specific assets that are transferred to them. My husband and I want to meet with an estate planning attorney within the next couple of weeks so we can peace of mind about the financial security of our three kids in the future. The info you shared here should be helpful as we discuss our options with the attorney, so I’ll be sure to keep it in mind!
Gail Webb says
How long does it take for a will to go through probate?