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What are the differences between a will and a trust?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2022 | Estate Planning

When people in Ohio begin to think about their passing, they will need to think about many different aspects of their lives. They should start thinking about who will receive their property, but this is just part of the estate planning process.

When people plan their estates, they will need to make a number of different decisions and may be presented a few different types of documents to consider. One of the main choices people need to make is whether they would like to have a will or a trust, or both.

Both documents can allow people to accomplish the basic goal of stating who they want to receive their property when they pass away. However, there are some big differences between the two documents and knowing the differences is important.


Wills are relatively simple documents when compared to trusts. They state the basics of who will receive property and they allow people to give specific property to specific people whether they are family or not. They also allow parents of minor children to name guardians for their children if they pass away while the children are still minors. Wills only go into effect when people actually pass away. Beneficiaries will also receive their property immediately after the death. With a will the estate will need to go through the probate process, in which the court oversees the administration of the estate.


Trusts tend to be more complicated than wills. They are highly adaptable and can be tailored to meet many needs. Some trusts can go into effect while the person is still alive, and others go into effect after the person dies.

The basic idea behind a trust is that ownership of property is divided between a trustee and a beneficiary or beneficiaries. The trustee manages the property in the trust and distributes it to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust.

For estate planning purposes, one of the biggest advantages of a trust over a will is a trust’s ability to escape probate. Because the person who establishes the trust is no longer technically the owner of the property, the property in the trust is not part of their estate when they die. Because it is not part of the estate, the property in the trust does not have to go through the probate process.

The estate planning process in Ohio can be complicated and it is important for people to understand their options to determine what is best for them. Experienced attorneys understand the different options and may be able to guide one through the process.