Learn Why a Will alone may not be the best choice

Will vs. Trust: What's the Difference?

The importance of estate planning cannot be overstated, and understanding the differences between a Will and a Revocable Living Trust is crucial in making the right choice for your unique needs and circumstances. To simplify this decision-making process, we have created a comprehensive Will vs. Trust comparison chart. Discover which option aligns perfectly with your goals by exploring our user-friendly guide below.

A Will

A Will is a document used to direct how your assets are distributed at the time of your death.  A Will allows you to:

  • specify how you want to divide your assets and who will inherit them;
  • name a personal representative to oversee the probate of your estate; and
  • designate a guardian to take care of your minor children.

To gain a deeper understanding of Wills and see how they compare to Trusts, refer to our helpful Will vs. Trust Chart below 

A Revocable Trust

Discover the Truth: Revocable Living Trusts are for Everyone, Not Just the Wealthy!

Don’t be fooled by misconceptions. Revocable Living Trusts offer a multitude of benefits that go far beyond estate tax considerations. With a Revocable Living Trust, you gain:

  • Complete control and enjoyment of your property, even during incapacity, without the need for probate court involvement;
  • The power to dictate how your assets are distributed to specific individuals, ensuring your wishes are followed without any unnecessary delays or probate court interference;
  • Protection for your property from the financial immaturity, creditors, and potential divorces of your loved ones, while also allowing for potential estate tax reductions.

Interested in learning more? Check out our comprehensive Will vs. Trust Chart below.

Discover The Reasons Why a Will Alone May Not Be the Choice

Will vs. Trust Chart

Wills vs. Trusts

Simple Will

Revocable Trust

Planning for Incapacity

Probate Court has control. A Will is a death document that individuals cannot use when they are incapacitated. An individual must petition the Probate Court for authority to handle your financial affairs.

You maintain control. Seamless transition upon incapacity. Your successor trustee manages your financial affairs according to your specific instructions without Probate Court intervention.

Probate (at Death)

A Will guarantees Probate. The Probate Court has total control and oversees the administration of your estate. A significant amount of documentation must be prepared and filed with the Probate Court.

You have total control without Probate Court intervention. A properly drafted and funded Revocable Trust allows you to completely avoid probate.

Court Costs & Legal Fees

Significant Probate Court costs and legal fees (approx. 3-5% of an estate’s value).

Typically no court costs or legal fees. Legal fees are only required for an attorney to assist with the administration of the Trust.


No privacy as Probate Court proceedings are public record. Family can be exposed to disgruntled heirs, unscrupulous solicitors, etc.

Total privacy. Trusts are not public record. Your Trustee and family can take care of your financial affairs privately.


The Probate process can be lengthy and time-consuming (approximately 12-18 months).

Typically only a few weeks are involved. Larger estates may take longer for estate tax filing, division of assets into new trusts, etc.

Estate Tax Planning

Limited opportunities to eliminate or minimize Federal and Massachusetts Estate Taxes.

A properly drafted Revocable Living Trust includes provisions to minimize or eliminate Federal and Massachusetts Estate Taxes.

Controlled Distributions of Assets

Wills provide for outright distributions only.

Revocable Living Trusts allow you to control the distribution of assets “to whom you want, the way you want and when you want.”

Planning for Minor Children

Probate Court controls child inheritance. A guardian must be appointed. All decisions and financial transactions require court approval. All assets are distributed outright to the child at age 18.

You maintain control. Court approves guardian, but has no control over your child’s inheritance. The trustee you select manages the child’s inheritance, provides funds for medical care, education, maintenance, or any special item you may decide, but does not distribute assets until the ages or circumstances that you have specified in your Trust.

Flexibility & Control

Very limited control as a Will doesn’t take effect until you die. You can write new wills to cover new circumstances, but wills are easily contested.

You maintain control of your assets and health, unless you become disabled. At that time, the people you hand-picked will handle your assets and health per your instructions in your Trust. If you aren’t disabled, you can change your Trust or discontinue it at any time. Trusts are difficult to contest.

Asset Protection

Offers no asset protection. Wills only allow for outright distributions. Assets are exposed to your heirs’ creditors, predators, lawsuit and even ex-spouses in the event of a future divorce.

Assets can be held in the Trust past death, protecting your assets from your heirs’ creditors, predators, lawsuits and ex-spouses in the event of a future divorce.


Questions Our Clients Often Ask

What is Estate Planning?

At the Socius Law Firm, we believe estate planning is a process where you design a blueprint that:

  • allows you to control your property when you are alive and well
  • enables you to control how your & your loved ones are cared for in the event of incapacity
  • allows you to control how your assets are managed, used and passed in the event of your death
  • enables you to save every last tax dollar, professional and court cost.

While this is typically accomplished through a set of estate planning documents, it is crucial to keep in mind that estate planning is not only about the documents themselves. It is about making a series of informed decisions and taking a series of thoughtful actions, all of which are designed to ensure that in the event of your incapacity or death, things will transition in the way you would have hoped, with the least disruption possible and with minimal or no intrusion by the court.

Learn more about the Socius Law Firm's unique 6-Step Estate Planning Process.

Do I Need An Estate Plan?
Do you know what would happen legally to you, your loved ones, and your assets if something unexpected were to happen to you?
When it comes to estate planning, everyone has their own fears, concerns and goals. Discover why you need an estate plan based on your personal situation or family circumstance.
Will vs. Trust - What is the difference?

Both a Will and a Trust are useful estate planning documents, but understanding their differences will help you decide which is right for your particular estate planning objectives and personal circumstances. 

Find out why a Will alone may not be the best choice for you and your family by viewing our side-by-side comparison chart.

See Our Will vs. Trust Chart

What is a Revocable Trust?

As the foundation of the modern estate plan, a Revocable Trust helps you control how your assets are managed and used while you are alive and well, if you become incapacitated, and after you die.

A Living Trust enables the coordinated distribution of all of your assets, while maintaining the greatest degree of asset control and flexibility - both during your lifetime and after death.

There are many important benefits of Trusts beyond federal and MA estate tax considerations such as:

  • Avoiding probate and ensuring a smooth transition
  • Protecting assets
  • Planning for incapacity or disability (without Court oversight)
  • Controlling distributions to beneficiaries (give what you have…to whom you want, the way you want, when you want)
  • Maintaining 100% privacy

Learn About the Benefits of a Revocable Trust

How much does an estate plan cost?

 We offer four levels of comprehensive estate planning - each highly customized to meet your unique family situation.  Plan fees are dependent upon your personal values, goals and objectives.

From starter plans primarily for families with young children and little in the way of financial wealth, to more robust plans for well-established families who want to avoid probate, provide asset protection and eliminate or minimize estate taxes, we offer estate planning levels to meet your needs and objectives.  Estate planning fees generally range from $1,200.00 up to $8,500.00 on the high end for an extensive estate plan.  We also offer several advanced estate planning options for those who need even more planning.

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How Do We Get Started?

At the Socius Law Firm, we have established a unique estate planning process where we listen and learn about you, your family and personal circumstances, thoroughly explain the estate planning options available to you and custom design, implement and maintain a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your specific concerns, fears, goals and objectives. Our process is designed to ensure your confidence at each step along the way, from the initial planning meeting through the delivery and implementation of your completed plan and beyond. The ultimate outcome of our estate planning process is to give you peace of mind.

We all like to put off important tasks and wait until the very last minute, this includes estate planning. There is always “something” that would be more fun to spend time doing or money on. However, honestly there are few things that are more important and none that are a better investment for yourself and your family.  Take the first step….

Schedule Appointment

What is Probate?

Probate is a process whereby the Probate Court supervises the transfer of assets from a person who has passed away to the new lawful owners. 

Probate is generally a long, frustrating and expensive process. Much of our practice is devoted to using trusts and other planning tools to help our clients avoid probate altogether. However, for families who did not do probate avoidance planning, we are frequently hired to guide them through the probate process.

What is Durable Power of Attorney?

If you become mentally incapacitated, you won’t be able to manage your own financial affairs. Many are under the mistaken impression that their spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them in case they become incapacitated. The truth is that for others to be able to manage your finances, they must petition the Probate Court to declare you legally incompetent.

This process can be lengthy, costly and stressful. Even if the court appoints the person you would have chosen, they may have to come back to the Probate Court every year and show how they are spending and investing the money.

If you want your family to be able to immediately take over for you without Probate Court interference, you must designate a person or persons that you trust with the use of a Durable Power of Attorney.

What is a Health Care Proxy?

A Health Care Proxy allows you to appoint someone you trust - for example, a family member or close friend to make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself.  Without a Health Care Proxy, your loved ones would have to petition the Probate Court for authority to make medical decisions on your behalf.

What is a Living Will?

In addition to a Health Care Proxy, you should also have a Living Will which informs others of your preferred medical treatments such as the use of extraordinary measures should you become permanently unconscious or terminally ill.

How Do I name a Guardian for my minor children?

At the Socius Law Firm, we have developed an expertise in planning for the well-being and care of children should the unthinkable happen. We call this advanced legal planning — Kids’ Safeguard Planning.

Kids’ Safeguard Planning is based on the premise that a Will alone is simply not enough to protect minor children should both parents die or become incapacitated.

If you are a parent of minor children, your estate plan needs to include Kids’ Safeguard Planning to ensure your children will always be taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, and never put in a situation you wouldn’t like.

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