Creating a comprehensive estate plan is the best way to preserve your legacy and ensure that you’re leaving your loved ones with a clear plan to follow when you pass away. There are many ways to accomplish this, but two of the most common methods people use to leave clear instructions and provide for their loved ones are wills and trusts. These two estate planning tools may accomplish similar things, but they work in different ways. Before you schedule an appointment with your Illinois estate planning attorney, familiarize yourself with each option.

will vs trust estate planning

What Is a Will?

A will provides your executor and your loved ones with a clear set of instructions to follow when you pass away. Your will outlines things like who inherits which parts of your estate, how you want your funeral conducted, which charities you want to support with a final donation (if any), and more. 

It’s a document that you can draw up at any time and can update as needed based on your preferences. You can create your own will, but most people find that working with an Illinois estate planning attorney makes the process easier and faster.

What Is a Trust?

Trusts also help you ensure that your assets go to the people who you want to receive them when you pass away. But rather than just writing down who you want each piece of property to go to, you’ll need to transfer your assets to the trust.

Trusts make it easier to transfer property to your designated beneficiaries when you’re alive and can help remove the risk of disputes and disagreements between your beneficiaries when you pass away. However, they’re more complicated to set up than a will and typically require the help of an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney from the beginning.

Furthermore, trusts are typically given higher priority than wills meaning that the beneficiaries you designate in the trust will receive the property allocated in your trust even if it differs from what you wrote in a will. You can always update the trust as needed should you have a change in assets or in designated beneficiaries.

How to Decide Which Is Right for Your Situation

Both wills and trusts can help you leave a lasting legacy for your loved ones. Trusts are ideal for those who want to leave assets and property to their beneficiaries while they’re alive and those who want to keep their estate out of costly probate hearings when they pass away. 

Wills, on the other hand, are ideal for those who want to provide their loved ones with detailed instructions on how their assets and affairs are handled when they pass away. They’re especially beneficial for parents with minor children who need to outline guardianship if they’re unable to care for their children.

That said, you’re free to use both wills and trusts to ensure that your estate plans are clear.

Get Help From an Illinois Estate Planning Attorney

If you’re looking to establish a will or create a trust for your loved ones, don’t try to do it on your own. Work with an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney. At Legacy and Life, we’re proud to help individuals and families alike create comprehensive estate plans. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.