Developing a Plan to Protect Individuals, Families, and Businesses.


Will v. Living Trust

A stand alone will is a testamentary document that outlines one’s distribution plan of his or her assets. The testator will not need to do anything regarding the title of his or her assets. The person who is in charge of distributing the assets after the testator passes away is called the Executor or Executrix. If the decedent’s assets have a total gross value of $150,000.00 or has real property with a gross value of $20,000.00, the distribution plan contained within the Will will be supervised by the Probate Court. The decedent’s assets and distribution plan will be public record.

living trust is also a testamentary document that manages one’s assets. Once the living trust is created, the creator of the trust or “settlor,” will need to “fund” the trust, meaning the settlor will need to transfer title of his or her assets into the living trust. While the settlor is alive, the settlor will often be able to manage his or her assets as he or she did prior to the creation of the living trust. After the settlor passes away, the successor Trustee is in charge of the distribution and management of the assets contained within the living trust. The living trust will not undergo the probate process and will not be public record.   

Differences Between a Stand Alone Will and a Living Trust:  
  Stand Alone Will Living Trust
 Name of Creator Testator Trustor, Grantor, or Settlor
Funding Required? No Yes
Name of Receiver Beneficiary Beneficiary
Person In Charge of Distributing Assets Executor or Executrix Trustee or Co-Trustees
Public? Yes No
Undergo Probate Process? Yes, if the decedent's assets are over $150.000.00 or has real property over $20,000.00 No, unless assets are not listed under the trust (trust is not funded)
Probate Fees? Approximately 2-5% of gross estate value None
Quickest Distribution Timeframe 12 months 1 month
Ability to Amend Yes, as long as testator has testamentary capacity Yes, as long as Trustor has testamentary capacity and capacity to enter into contract or designated Agent has powers to do so


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