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Wills and Living Trusts

When most people think of how they want to dispose of their assets when they pass away, the first thing that they think of is a will.  But that’s not the only legal document that is used with regards to how you want to handle your finances and property upon your death. The other is called a living trust (also called a revocable trust).


A will is a legal document that directs the disposition of your assets after your death. Having a valid will makes the probate process, the distribution of your assets, go more smoothly than if you didn’t have a will. Also, in a will, you can name a guardian for your children.

Living Trust

A living trust is a legal document that becomes valid when you execute the documents and your property is transferred into it. You, as the grantor and trustee, manage the assets while you are alive and then they are passed directly to a trustee of your choice upon your death without involving probate.

Although you can’t name a guardian for your children in a living trust, you can choose someone to manage assets set aside for a specific beneficiary until they are older. As discussed below, you can execute a will in conjunction with your living trust, under which you can name a guardian of your children.

The main difference between the two documents is that a will takes effect only after your death while a living trust becomes valid as soon as it is duly executed and assets are added—that is, during your lifetime. 

When you come to the Law Offices of Emanuel Haas, we will help you decide which legal document is the best for your situation.   Another thing we can do is help you determine whether you want to set up an irrevocable trust.