Wills vs. Trusts: Which Do You Need?

If you are new to estate planning, you’re probably familiar with the terms “will” and “trust,” but you might not be sure what exactly these estate planning tools really do or which one is right for you. Wills and trusts are the most basic elements of an estate plan. They have one major shared goal: they both serve as recorded, legally-binding instructions about what you want to happen to your assets after you die. These two tools go about achieving this in very different ways.

So which do I choose?

You don’t have to pick just one! In fact, most estate plans will include a will and a trust or even multiple trusts. Let’s take a close look at how these tools differ!

Types of Property

  • Wills can only provide instructions for property you own.
  • Trusts can make arrangements for jointly owned properties, as well as properties like life insurance policies.

Effective Date

  • Wills go into effect after your death.
  • Trusts can take effect as soon as they’re signed. You can decide when and how you want beneficiaries to receive assets.


  • Wills can be updated as you please, as long as you maintain mental capacity.
  • Trusts’ changeability depend on their structure. Revocable trusts can be modified whereas irrevocable trusts are difficult to change and often may not be changed.


  • Property distributed in accordance with your Will may be subject to probate.
  • Trusts allow you to transfer ownership of your property to the trust itself, allowing the property to skip the probate process.


  • Wills can go on public record because probate is a public process.
  • Trusts stay private.

Naming an Executor

  • Wills can name an executor for your estate.
  • Trusts cannot do this.

Personal Wishes

  • Wills allow you to express your personal wishes. For example, a will allows you to name a guardian for your minor children.
  • Trusts are usually strictly financial arrangements.

Overwhelmed? That’s okay! At Auricchio Law Offices, we can provide you with all the information and guidance you need to use estate planning tools like wills and trusts (and so much more!) effectively. Whether you’re brand new to estate planning or just need to update an existing plan, we’re here for you. If you are interested in learning more about estate planning and how our team can help, we would love to hear from you. Contact us today to get started!

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Auricchio Law Offices

Auricchio Law Offices in Chicago provides a complete range of real estate services. We facilitate residential and commercial real estate transactions, advise and represent condominium associations, and represent property owners in real estate litigation. Whatever your real estate issue, we will work diligently to achieve your goals in a timely and efficient manner.

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