What is the Difference Between a Will-based plan and a Trust-based plan?

In this article I will explain the difference between a Will-based plan and a Trust-based plan so you can make an educated decision for your family about what is best for you and, ultimately, for them.

  • A Will-based plan is an estate plan that does not include a Living Trust to hold title to your assets.  (If you work with us and choose our Family Plan, which is a will-based plan, your legal documents will include a Health Care Directive, Power of Attorney, and, if you have minor children, a Kids Protection Plan®.)
  • A Trust-based plan is an estate plan that does include a Living Trust to hold title to your assets during your lifetime and to provide for ease of transfer of those assets in the event of your incapacity or death.  (If you work with us and choose our Trust Plan or Wealth Plan, your legal documents will include all of the documents included in the Family Plan plus one or more Living Trusts.)

So, what’s the practical difference?

The difference between a Will-based plan and a Trust-based plan  is that without a Trust in place your family would have to go to Court to get access to your assets in the event of your incapacity or death.

Your Will indicates WHO you want to have access to those assets and how you want them distributed, but it does not keep your family out of the Court process known as probate.  Going through the probate proceedings is expensive, time-consuming, totally public and unnecessary.  And that’s generally what happens when you have only a Will in place and not a Trust.

When you have a Trust in place, there is a bit more work for you to do upfront because you need to make sure that all of your assets are owned in the Trust throughout your lifetime (or insurance assets are beneficiary designated to the Trust), but we help you with that or even do it for you.  And, with our regular review process or our family wealth plans, we continue to make sure your assets are owned the right way throughout your lifetime, while also ensuring your plan stays up to date as your life changes, your assets change and even the law changes.

If you decide to work with us, we will start the process with a Family Wealth Planning Session. During your Family Wealth Planning Session, we will walk you through an assessment of whether a Will-Based Plan or Trust-Based Plan is right for you based on the specifics of your family circumstances, what you own now and where you are going in the future.  One thing you can be sure of is that we will help you make the right decisions every step of the way.

To your health, wealth and happiness,


This article is a service of Jill Gregory Law, a Personal Family Lawyer® firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Life and Legacy Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by clicking the button above or calling our office today at 949-514-8842 or 530-581-5455, to schedule a free 15 Minute Phone Consult with Jill Gregory, or a full Planning Session today. Mention this article to find out how to get this $750 Life and Legacy Planning Session at no charge.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.