Should I Have a Will or a Trust?

Two books rest on a desk. One reads "Last Will and Testament" and the other reads "Estate Law"

Which Option is Better For Your Needs?

When creating an estate plan, one of the major decisions you may need to make is whether you will include a will or a living trust in your plan. Knowing the differences between these two components can make your decision much more clear. Here are the facts of each to keep in mind as you make your plans.


A living will works to distribute your assets to named beneficiaries after your death; it serves as a means of ensuring that your wishes will be carried through after you are gone. A will can also be used to name a guardian of children or distribute assets to non-family members.

One of the key facts about wills to keep in mind is that they are only active after your passing; while you can change your will over time, nothing takes effect until you are gone. In addition, a will must go through a process known as probate. Probate involves going to court and having the judge examine all assets and work to ensure assets are distributed according to the deceased’s wishes. Probate can be a bit lengthy and costly depending upon the size of the estate you are passing down.


Living trusts are similar to wills in that assets are named to beneficiaries. One of the key differences, however, is that a trust names a person (known as a trustee) to be a person in charge of assets on behalf of other parties (the beneficiaries). A trust can be changed at any time (sometimes known as revocable).

The primary difference between a trust and a will is that a trust avoids probate; all assets are distributed outside of attending probate court. This can be especially helpful for individuals who are passing down estates with a large number of assets or that possess a great value.

Which Is Better?

What option you decide to include in your estate plan depends entirely on your unique situation and needs. One factor to keep in mind, however, is the size of your estate that will be passed down. If your estate is rather sizable or is of a large value, it may be better to have that passed down in a trust. If, on the other hand, your estate is not as large, a will may be better suited for you.

Work With an Attorney for Estate Planning

Because determining estate planning needs can be rather complicated, it’s important to work with an attorney who understands Oregon’s estate planning laws and can help you create a plan that meets your needs and the needs of your family. At Levine Law Center LLC, our team can help you create an estate plan that works to preserve your assets and wishes while protecting your family’s best interests.

To learn more about estate planning in Oregon or to schedule a consultation, call us at (503) 433-8340 or visit us online.