What Are Some Differences Between a Revocable Trust and a Will?


Quick Answer

Differences between wills and revocable trusts involve the necessity of probate, privacy, protection from challenges in court, avoiding conservatorship and the transference of property, reports Nolo. Wills but not trusts allow the naming of an estate executor and guardians for children. Trusts can sometimes be more complex than wills.

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Full Answer

Wills must pass through the court system in an often expensive and lengthy procedure known as probate, while revocable trusts bypass probate and allow trustees to distribute property directly to beneficiaries, explains Nolo. The contents of wills also become matters of public record, while trusts remain private. Because grantors of revocable trusts generally manage them personally, trusts are more difficult than wills to challenge in court on the grounds of the grantor's incompetence. Trusts can avoid court conservatorship if the grantor becomes incapacitated by naming a successor trustee, but it isn't possible to do this in a will.

Grantors must transfer all property designated for beneficiaries into trust ownership, while this step is not necessary with wills, according to Nolo. Two people who are not personally involved as beneficiaries must witness a will, while a notary public signs and stamps a revocable trust. Creators of wills are able to specify a number of details that are not allowed in trusts, including guardians and property managers for children, executors who can manage the business of an entire estate, and instructions on handling debts and taxes.

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