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What is better, a will or a trust?

Ask the LDA

It's hard to believe the Holidays are upon us again! Sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table, often children will ask their parents the "what if?" question. We all know what that is. "How do you want your estate handled?" Follow along with me as we discuss common questions.

What is better, a will or a trust?

A trust will streamline the process of transferring an estate after you die while avoiding a lengthy and potentially costly period of probate (in California if you have assets like a house, and it is worth more than $185,000, there will be a probate in most circumstances). However, if you have minor children, creating a will that names a guardian is critical to protecting both the minors and any inheritance. Deciding between a will or a trust is a personal choice, and some experts recommend having both. A will is typically less expensive and easier to set up than a trust.

Do you need both a trust and a will?

Nearly everyone should have a will, but not everyone most likely needs a living or irrevocable trust. If you have property and assets to place in a trust and have minor children, having both estate-planning vehicles might make sense.

Does a will override a living trust?

A will and a living trust are two separate legal documents. One doesn't usually trump another, but if the issue arises, a living trust will most likely override a will because a trust is its own entity.

How much does it cost to set up a trust?

The cost to set up a trust depends on various factors, including the type of trust. I charge a flat fee to set up a family trust. An estate planning attorney will provide legal advice and specific direction and in turn will be more expensive. I am not an attorney and can only prepare documents at your specific direction.

It is important to settle your affairs earlier rather than later in life. A will or a trust, or both, can ensure your assets and possessions end up where you want them to go. If you have minor children, you should absolutely make a will to name guardianship. A trust will streamline your estate's transfer, unlike a will, which goes through probate. Making an estate plan a priority now can save money and precious time later, and help your loved ones avoid potential financial hardship.

Diana Wade is a Legal Document Assistant. She can be reached at (661) 821-0494 or [email protected]. Diana is not an attorney; she can only provide self-help services at your specific direction. Kern County LDA #185, ex 4/11/25.