The Difference Between a Will and a Trust

Everyone has heard the terms “Will” and “Trust,” but not everyone knows the differences between the two. Both are useful estate planning devices that serve different purposes, and can work together to create a complete estate plan.

One of the main differences between the two is that a will goes into effect only after you die, while a trust takes effect as soon as you create it. A will directs who receives your property at your death and it appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes.

A trust is a legal arrangement through which a “trustee” hold legal title to property for another person called a “beneficiary. This type of estate can be used to begin distributing property before death or afterwards. A Trust usually has two types of beneficiaries. The first receives income from the trust during their lives and the other receives whatever is left over after the first set of beneficiaries dies. In order for property to be included in a Trust, it must first be put in the name of the Trust.


A Will covers any property that is only in your name when you die. It does not cover property held in joint tenancy or in a Trust. That means a court publicly oversees the administration of the Will and ensures the property gets distributed the way the deceased person wanted. However, a Trust passes outside of probate, so a court does not need to oversee the process, which can save time and money while staying private.


Creating a valid estate plan is a matter that should be addressed by an experienced attorney. Still have questions about what all goes into putting together a Will or a Trust and want to speak an estate planning attorney in Raleigh? You’re in the right place. Maginnis Law can answer your any questions regarding your estate.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 919-526-0450 to speak with an estate planning attorney Raleigh NC or email us with any questions at info@maginnislaw.com. Maginnis Law also offers personal injuryconsumer lawemployee rights and business litigation attorneys as well.