living trust lawyer Des Moines, IA
  • August 22

Revocable Living Trust vs. Will

Estate planning is a critical aspect of managing your assets and ensuring the efficient distribution of your wealth to your beneficiaries after your passing. Two common tools for achieving this are the revocable living trust and the last will and testament. While both serve the purpose of outlining your wishes, they have distinct differences in how they operate and the benefits they offer. 

The Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust, often simply referred to as a living trust, is a legal entity that holds your assets during your lifetime and enables a seamless transition of those assets to your beneficiaries upon your passing. 

  1. Flexibility: One of the primary advantages of a living trust is its flexibility. You retain the ability to make changes to the trust, add or remove assets, and modify the terms at any time during your lifetime.
  2. Avoiding Probate: Assets held within a living trust typically bypass the probate process. This means that the transfer of assets to your heirs can occur quickly and without the delays and costs associated with probate court.
  3. Privacy: Unlike a will, which becomes a matter of public record when it goes through probate, a living trust provides a level of privacy. The details of the trust, including your assets and beneficiaries, remain private.
  4. Management of Assets: With a living trust, you appoint a trustee (often yourself while you’re alive) to manage and distribute the assets according to your instructions. This can be especially beneficial if you become incapacitated.
  5. Continuity: A living trust can provide for the ongoing management of assets and the care of your loved ones, ensuring a smooth transition even if you are unable to manage your affairs due to illness or incapacity.

The Last Will And Testament

A last will and testament, commonly referred to as a will, is a legal document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your death. 

  1. Simplicity: Wills are relatively simple documents and are typically less expensive to create than living trusts.
  2. Probate Process: Wills go through the probate process, which is a court-supervised legal procedure. This process can be time-consuming, and the costs associated with it may reduce the value of the estate.
  3. Fixed Instructions: Once a will is established, it is not as flexible as a living trust. Any changes must be made through codicils or amendments, which can be complex.
  4. Public Record: Wills become part of the public record during the probate process, so the details of your estate and your beneficiaries are accessible to the public.
  5. Executor: In a will, you designate an executor who is responsible for managing the distribution of your assets according to your instructions.

It’s essential to consult with our Des Moines, IA living trust lawyer from the Law Group of Iowa to evaluate your specific situation and determine which option aligns with your objectives for asset management and distribution. Ultimately, the choice you make should provide peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out effectively and in the best interests of your beneficiaries.

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