When you begin to create your estate plan in Illinois, you may wonder about the differences between a trust and a will. At Zapolis and Associates, P.C., we understand that it is important to understand these differences so you can put together the best estate plan for you and your family.

On the surface, trusts and wills seem very similar. Your particular situation determines which option is best for you. One important difference is that a trust usually does not go through probate before the assets are divided. Wills are typically required to go through probate to discuss any challenges to the will, as well as for the division of the assets. One of the benefits of a trust is that your beneficiaries generally receive the assets immediately after your death and the cost of probate is not taken from your assets. This can be beneficial if you want your estate to help support your spouse and children.

Another key difference between trusts and wills is that a trust is an active document during your lifetime. This means that you can change it if your life’s circumstances change so that more of your assets are included or left out. A will is usually effective only after your death. While you still can provide instructions about donations to charity and your children’s care, it can sometimes be more difficult to change the terms of the will.

While trusts typically do not go through probate, there are still some requirements which need to be met. Your trustee usually needs to make sure that any outstanding debts are paid and that all of your assets are properly documented.