Estate, Will and Trust Law


Many people assume that a will and a trust are exactly the same and will often come in seeking a will when what they actually want is a plan that will help them avoid probate and will protect their assets during their lifetimes and during any times where they may become incapacitated.  

We assist our clients in determining whether a Will-based estate plan or a Trust-based estate plan is the most appropriate, so they can make an informed decision for you and your family about what is the most appropriate action.



The difference between a Will and a Trust plan is that without a Trust in place the beneficiaries must go to Court through the probate process or conservatorship process to get access to your assets in the event of your incapacity or death.

A Will-based plan is an estate plan that does not include a Living Trust to hold title to your assets.  A will based plan may include a Financial Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directive, a Will and we will nominate the long term and short term guardians of your minor children.  

A Living Trust is a document which serves as an entity that holds title to your assets during your lifetime and provides for an easy transfer of those assets in the event that you die or become incapacitated



However, having a will is better than not having one  Without a will the court will decide who will get your assets and who will raise your children after you die. If you chose to have a Will based estate plan, you will be able to decide WHO you want to have access to those assets and how you want them distributed. The main difference in this type of planning is that it does not keep your family out of the Court process once you pass away.  The Probate process (or conservatorship in the event of incapacity) is expensive, takes a substantial amount of time and is public, meaning that the general public is able to learn what assets you have during the time of your incapacity and death. This process can be avoided by setting up a living trust during your lifetime.   

When you have a Trust in place, you continue to manage your assets, but they are transferred to the trust through a process of trust funding.  You can also make decisions which will allow for you to have a greater say in what happens to those assets after you pass away or during any time in which you are incapacitated.  When you meet with us we can discuss various options with you and we custom design your plan so that your plan meets your objectives.

With the trust plan, we will also create what is called a pour-over will, which will allow you to name the guardians for your children and will allow your executor to transfer any assets that you may have forgotten to include into the trust. This is another means of protection from the probate process.

We are also there to assist the trustee in administering the trust [carrying out your wishes] when you do become incapacitated or you pass away. Contact our office to set up your Estate Planning Strategy Session so that we can assist you in determining the best option for you and your loved ones.