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What is a Trust and How Does it Differ from a Will?

If you're planning your estate, you might be wondering whether you should create a trust or a will. Both documents are essential estate planning tools, but they serve different purposes. In this article, we'll discuss the differences between a trust and a will, the benefits of creating a trust, and how to determine which document is right for your needs.

Understanding Trusts and Wills

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that outlines how your assets will be distributed after you die. In a will, you can name an executor to manage your estate and distribute your assets according to your wishes. You can also name guardians for any minor children you have and make other provisions for your family.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal entity that can own assets and property. When you create a trust, you transfer your assets into the trust, and they are managed by a trustee of your choosing. You can name yourself as the trustee and continue to manage your assets as usual, or you can name another person or entity to manage them for you.

The Benefits of Creating a Trust

Avoiding Probate

One of the main benefits of creating a trust is that it can help you avoid probate. Probate is the legal process by which a court supervises the distribution of a deceased person's assets. It can be time-consuming, expensive, and public. When you create a trust, your assets are distributed according to the terms of the trust, not the probate court.

Control Over Your Assets

Creating a trust also gives you greater control over your assets. You can specify when and how your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries, and you can even set up provisions for how your assets are managed after you die.

Protecting Your Assets

Another benefit of creating a trust is that it can protect your assets from creditors and lawsuits. When your assets are in a trust, they are not considered part of your personal estate, so they may be protected from creditors seeking to collect on your debts.


Finally, creating a trust can help you maintain privacy. Probate proceedings are public record, so anyone can access information about your assets and how they are being distributed. With a trust, your assets are distributed privately, without court supervision.

Which Document is Right for You?

The decision to create a trust or a will depends on your specific needs and circumstances. If you have a large estate or complex assets, a trust may be a better option because it allows you greater control and flexibility over how your assets are managed and distributed. If you have a smaller estate or simpler assets, a will may be sufficient.

Ultimately, the best way to determine which document is right for you is to consult with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you evaluate your assets, goals, and priorities, and create an estate plan that meets your specific needs.

Contact a Trust and Estate Planning Attorney

At Heritage Law Office, our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that protects your assets, minimizes taxes, and ensures that your wishes are carried out. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our estate planning services. You can reach us either online or by calling us at 414-253-8500.

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.

Milwaukee Office
757 N. Broadway, Suite 300
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Minneapolis, MN 55104
414-676-2787 (fax)
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