Some people in Washington have estate plans that include both a will and a trust. One of these is generally the main document for the estate, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
One of the main differences is that a will must pass through probate before property can be distributed to heirs. With a trust, assets pass directly to heirs. Trusts offer privacy while probate is a public process. This can leave a will more vulnerable to challenges, and it can mean that a will is subject to greater scrutiny in case of irregularities. There are fewer established rules in place for challenging a trust compared to challenging a will. Preparing a will is generally less expensive than preparing a trust, but depending on various factors, probate can be costly. Adding assets to a trust can be more complicated than including them in a will, and a common error is creating a trust and then failing to fund it at all.
Trusts may be more efficient for passing on assets or for allowing someone to take over in the case of disability. Both wills and trusts need to be reviewed and updated regularly. An attorney may be able to assist a person in deciding whether to use a will or a trust in estate planning based on various factors.
For example, one reason a person might want to create is a trust is in order to have more control over how assets are distributed. Trusts can specify when a person receives distributions and how much the person gets each time. Trusts can also protect assets for people who have special needs and receive government benefits. Placing the individual’s assets in a trust allows the person to continue receiving benefits since the assets are considered the property of the trust.