Part Four of a Four Part Series

This post was authored by Salvatore M. Capizzi, Dunham's Chief Sales & Marketing Officer. If you have questions concerning today's topic, please call us at (858) 964 - 0500. Hold us to higher standards.

See all Installments of the Series

Part One: The Perils of Dying Without a Will or Trust

Part Two: The Inner Workings of a Will

Part Three: Using a Revocable Living Trust to Exercise More Control

Part Four: Comparing a Will and a Revocable Living Trust

When it comes to estate planning, a will and a revocable living trust are valuable tools that can help you protect your assets and ensure your loved ones are cared for after you are gone.

A will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets distributed after you pass away. It is straightforward and generally less expensive than a revocable living trust to set up. However, a will must go through probate, a court-supervised process that can take time and money and may be subject to challenges from disgruntled heirs or creditors.

On the other hand, a revocable living trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to transfer your assets while you are still alive. This type of legal document can provide several benefits, such as avoiding probate and potentially minimizing estate taxes. A living trust also allows you to name a successor trustee who can manage your assets if you become incapacitated or pass away. With a traditional trust, you accomplish this without court intervention.

A living trust can provide more privacy and flexibility than a will. It can be considered the more comprehensive option and works well for those with larger and more complex estates. A will is considered less expensive among the two options and can require less maintenance. It may also be considered better for smaller and less complicated estates.

The decision comes down to your unique needs and goals, so it is always best to consult a qualified estate planning attorney and financial planner to help you make the right choice.

Let us compare the two methods of passing your assets to loved ones and creating a peace of mind.

Comparing a Will to a Revocable Living Trust

Probate Avoidance

One of the most significant advantages of a revocable living trust is that it can help avoid the probate process. Probate is the legal process of transferring assets to beneficiaries after a person’s death. This process can be time-consuming, expensive, and public. However, a revocable living trust can distribute assets to beneficiaries without going through probate.


Another advantage of a revocable living trust is that it can maintain privacy. Unlike wills, which become public records once filed with the probate court, the terms of a revocable living trust can remain private.


A will is the least expensive option of the two methods. Creating a revocable living trust often requires more extensive legal work to create and fund, and ongoing maintenance is often necessary to ensure the document remains effective.

Property Control

A revocable living trust allows the grantor (the creator of the trust) to maintain control over assets even after their death. This control can be beneficial if the grantor has concerns about the management of their assets after they pass away. A will works best when the assets and custody of the assets pass directly to the beneficiaries.

Incapacity Planning

A revocable living trust can also provide for the management of assets in case of incapacity. This type of grantor names a successor trustee to take over management of the trust if they become incapacitated. In contrast, wills require separate documents, such as a durable power of attorney to provide for incapacity planning.

Modification and Revocation

Both a revocable living trust and a will can be modified or revoked during the creator’s lifetime. However, modifying or revoking a trust typically requires more extensive legal work than modifying or revoking a will.

Distribution Flexibility

A revocable living trust provides greater flexibility in distributing assets to beneficiaries. For example, the grantor can specify the distribution of certain assets at certain times, such as when a beneficiary reaches a certain age or achieves a certain milestone. In contrast, wills may provide less flexibility in distributing assets.


A revocable living trust does not require an executor or administrator; the creator can appoint someone to serve as trustee after their death. A will requires an executor or administrator to manage the estate during the probate process.

A Final Point

A will and a revocable living trust are valuable estate planning tools that can help protect your assets and ensure your loved ones are cared for after you pass away.

The decision between the two methods comes down to your unique needs and goals, so it is always best to consult a qualified estate planning attorney and financial planner to help you make the right choice. Both methods also offer advantages in incapacity planning, modification and revocation, and distribution flexibility, but each has unique features to consider.

Disclosure: This communication is general in nature and provided for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be considered or relied upon as legal, tax, or investment advice or an investment recommendation, or as a substitute for legal counsel. Any investment products or services named herein are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered an offer to buy or sell, or an investment recommendation for, any specific security, strategy, or investment product or service. Always consult a qualified professional or your own independent financial professional for personalized advice or investment recommendations tailored to your specific goals, individual situation, and risk tolerance.

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