Wills and trusts are both crucial documents, in terms of ensuring the protection of your loved ones. Many distinctions between two documents exist, however. What are the differences and similarities between a will and a trust?

Wills vs. Trusts


  1. Probate process is unlikely Assets in trust avoids probate, while assets and property controlled by a Will guarantees probate. The probate process is often time-consuming, expensive and stress inducing.
  2. Allows for privacy Due to the fact that Wills are public documents subject to probate, any individual may become familiar with the specific details of your estate. This can feel violating to a family’s privacy. A trust however, ensures privacy is retained.
  3. Guardianship proceedings are unnecessary In Using a trust to manage assets provides an additional layer of protection from guardianship proceedings. A living trust is a separate legal entity, therefore, anything placed in control of the trust follows the rules set by the Grantor and the whims of a court appointed guardian.
  4. Court challenges are reduced The first step in a probate is to validate the Will. This is done by inviting possible objections by people who may otherwise be able to inherit from you. As stated, a trust is private and allows for private administration of your belongings. This reduces the possibility that a challenge your arrangements will be made in court.


  1. Less money and time in the short term Wills are typically less expensive to draft. They also take less time to draft in the short term.
  2. Can appoint guardian for minor children In the event you have children under the age of 18, it is paramount to name a trusted individual as a guardian. A Will makes the declaration of who you trust to care for your children in the event you become unable to continuing caring for them yourself.
  3. No funding required A trust is only as effective as it is “funded” or as the Grantor places property under the control of the trust. This is an ongoing process that requires the Grantor and Trustees of the trust to know what is placed in control of the trust, and ensure that any future assets acquired are placed in the trust as well. A Will doesn’t need funding because it simply directs the probate court how to manage any assets owned by you upon your death.

Both Wills and Trusts

  1. Revisable Wills and Trusts are both amendable up until your death, as long as you are mentally and physically capable of making changes. Whenever your circumstances or decisions shift, you may make changes to both of these documents.
  2. Name beneficiaries Both documents allow you to choose beneficiaries who will receive your assets.

Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Today

An experienced estate planning attorney at Peterson Berk & Cross can aid you in creating a beneficial estate plan catering to our unique circumstances. Everyone’s estate plan looks different, depending on their stage in life.

Our attorneys are knowledgeable in determining the most advantageous state plan for each individual’s circumstances. These conversations can prove difficult, but are simultaneously important to have. They ensure order matters run smoothly for you and your loved ones during tough transitional times. To discuss an estate plan that will most greatly benefit you, or to update your existing estate plan, send us an email or contact our offices in Appleton or Green Bay at 920-831-0300.