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The Pros and Cons of a Living Trust vs. a Testamentary Trust: Choosing the Right Option


At Heritage Law Office, our experienced estate planning attorneys will thoroughly review your needs and wants when planning your estate and provide an outline of your best options. Contact us either online or at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation today.

Understanding Living Trusts and Testamentary Trusts

When considering estate planning, it's essential to understand the differences between living trusts and testamentary trusts. Both types of trusts offer unique benefits, but each may be better suited for different circumstances.

Living Trusts

A living trust, also known as a revocable trust, is established during a person's lifetime. The person creating the trust, known as the grantor, can manage the trust and its assets until their death or incapacitation.

Advantages of a Living Trust

  1. Avoiding Probate: One of the primary benefits of a living trust is that it allows assets to bypass probate, the legal process through which a will is validated and assets are distributed. This can save time and money for the beneficiaries.
  2. Privacy: A living trust is not a public record, which means the details of your estate and your beneficiaries remain private.
  3. Control: The grantor maintains control over the assets in a living trust and can modify or revoke the trust at any time.

Disadvantages of a Living Trust

  1. Cost: Establishing a living trust can be more expensive upfront than creating a will and testamentary trust.
  2. Maintenance: A living trust requires ongoing management, which may be time-consuming or require hiring a professional trustee.

Testamentary Trusts

A testamentary trust is created through a person's will and only becomes effective after their death. This type of trust is managed by a trustee, who is responsible for distributing the assets according to the terms of the trust.

Advantages of a Testamentary Trust

  1. Cost: Testamentary trusts are generally less expensive to establish than living trusts.
  2. Flexibility: A testamentary trust can be changed or modified at any time before the grantor's death, as it is part of the will.

Disadvantages of a Testamentary Trust

  1. Probate: Assets in a testamentary trust must go through probate, which can be a time-consuming and costly process.
  2. Lack of Privacy: Testamentary trusts are part of a person's will, which becomes public record upon their death. This means that the details of the trust and its beneficiaries are accessible to the public.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between a Living Trust and Testamentary Trust

When deciding between a living trust and a testamentary trust, several factors should be taken into consideration:

  1. Estate Size: Larger estates may benefit more from a living trust, as the potential savings from avoiding probate may outweigh the initial costs of establishing the trust.
  2. Privacy Concerns: If privacy is a priority, a living trust may be a better option, as it keeps the details of your estate and beneficiaries private.
  3. Complexity of Estate: If your estate has numerous assets or unique circumstances, a living trust may provide more flexibility and control in managing those assets.
  4. Age and Health: Younger individuals in good health may not need the immediate benefits of a living trust and could opt for a testamentary trust to save on upfront costs.

Contact a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorney

If you're considering a living trust or testamentary trust as part of your estate planning strategy, contact our experienced attorneys at Heritage Law Office by using the online form or calling us directly at 414-253-8500. Our team will guide you through the process, ensuring that your estate plan is tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Contact Us Today

For a comprehensive plan that will meet your needs or the needs of a loved one, contact us today. Located in Downtown Milwaukee, we proudly provide legal advice to those in Milwaukee County and surrounding communities.

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Milwaukee, WI 53202
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