Will vs. Trust - Which Document do You Need?

Updated: Apr 8, 2020


Let's start by explaining the two documents.


  1. A will gives guidance to the probate court telling them where you want your assets to go when you die. It also lists who you want to become guardian for any minor children. It should list who you want to have as the person who administers your estate (Executor) and any powers that you want them to have.

  2. A revocable living trust gives guidance to your Trustee as to where you want assets to go when you die and how you want them distributed. You can put restrictions on distributions to minor beneficiaries or incapacitated beneficiaries, such as reasons for distributions, ages they may receive their share, setting a monthly amount for their lifetime, etc. It also allows you to protect beneficiaries with personal issues, such as, divorce, bankruptcy, lawsuits, and drug or alcohol issues.

Difference between the two documents.

You will notice one big difference between the two documents: one gives guidance to the COURT and the other to a TRUSTEE OF YOUR CHOOSING. A revocable living trust helps you to avoid the probate court being involved in the distribution of your assets.

There are 3 main reasons why you want to avoid having the court involved:


  1. Time. In the state of Ohio, creditors are given 6 months from your date of death to make claims. Also, the average length of a probate estate in Ohio is 18 months. That mean it is 18 months before assets are distributed to your beneficiaries.

  2. Expense. The majority of counties in the state of Ohio allow attorneys to charge a percentage of your estate as their fee. This usually averages between 3-8% of your estate.

  3. Publicity. Anyone can go to the courthouse or in most counties, online, to find out who your beneficiaries are and what they are receiving. This could open them up to predators and identity theft.

If you have questions about which document is right for you, contact us at (937) 507-9004 or liz@durnellmaierlaw.com. We can do phone or video conferencing to discuss the pros and cons. The only time we would have to meet in person is when it is time for you to sign your new estate plan.

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