Benefits of a Living Trust



  • Avoids probate at death, including multiple probates if you own property in other states.

  • Prevents court control of assets at incapacity.

  • Brings all your assets together under one plan.

  • Provides maximum privacy.

  • Quicker distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

  • Assets can remain in trust until you want beneficiaries to inherit.

  • Can reduce or eliminate estate taxes.

  • Inexpensive, easy to set up and maintain.

  • Can be changed or canceled at any time.

  • Difficult to contest.

  • Prevents court control of minors' inheritances.

  • Can protect dependents with special needs.

  • Prevents unintentional disinheriting and other problems of joint ownership.

  • Professional management with corporate trustee.

  • Peace of mind.


With No Will

With A Will

With A Living Trust

At Incapacity (unable to handle your financial affairs)

Court Control: Court appointee oversees your care, must keep detailed records, reports to court, and usually must post bond (even if appointee is your spouse).  Court approves all expenses, oversees financial affairs.

Court Control: Same as no will

No Court Control: Your successor trustee manages your financial affairs according to instructions in your trust for as long as necessary.  (In some states, court intervention may be required for health care decisions.)

At Death

Probate: Court orders your debts paid and assets distributed according to state law.

Probate: Same as no will, but assets distributed per your will (if valid and any contests are unsuccessful).

No Probate: Debts paid and assets distributed by successor trustee according to instructions in your trust.

Court Costs, Legal & Executor Fees

At Death: Often estimated at 3-8% of estate's value.  At Incapacity: Impossible to estimate.

Same as no will.  Costs can increase if will is contested.

At Death: Usually none if no estate taxes.  At Incapacity: None.  (Attorney can be helpful for larger estates.)


At Death: Usually 9 months to 2 years before heirs can inherit.  At Incapacity: Court involved until recovery or death.

Same as no will.

At Death: Usually just weeks (larger estates may take longer for estate tax filing).  At Incapacity: No delays.

Flexibility & Control

None: Court processes, not your family, have control at incapacity and death.  When you die, assets are distributed according to state law.

Limited: Same as no will except, when you die, assets are distributed according to your will (if valid and any contests are unsuccessful).  You can change your will at any time.

Maximum: You can change/discontinue your trust at any time.  Assets stay under control of your trust, even at incapacity and after your death. More difficult than a will to contest.


None: Court proceedings are public record.  Family can be exposed to disgruntled heirs, unscrupulous solicitors

None: Same as no will.

Maximum: Living trusts are not public record.  Your family can take care of your financial affairs privately.