Wills and Trusts Which is Right For Me


The right planning documents can help you protect your loved ones, ensure that your wishes are followed, and gain greater peace of mind. The comparison chart below describes the features and benefits of a will and living trust, as well as what can happen if you don’t have either plan in place.

Our document preparation specialists will answer your questions and guide you through the process.  It’s easy and affordable to establish all the documents you need.


Last Will & Testament
Revocable Living Trust
NOT having a Will
or Living Trust
Overall Purpose Outlines wishes for the distribution of assets after death. Controls how and when assets are distributed after death, without the cost and delay of probate. If you elect not to have a Will or Trust, most major decisions will be made by the courts.
Asset Distribution/Inheritance You must also establish beneficiaries on all bank accounts, investments, property, life insurance, etc. Provides greater flexibility to manage inheritance for minors, special needs, charitable organizations and other contingencies. All property and assets will be distributed based on state statute (known as the Laws of Intestacy).
Minor Guardianship Designates a guardian and contingent guardian. Designates a guardian and contingent guardian. The courts will determine who gets guardianship of your children.
Minor Inheritance If children are listed as beneficiaries, courts will generally place funds in restricted accounts until
age 18.
Allows you to determine how and when children receive funds (college completion, age 25, installment distribution, etc.). Court may distribute assets to minor children at 18 and the estate may incur fees to manage funds.
Medical Wishes/Incapacity Healthcare Directive is part of Will package. Healthcare Directive is part of Trust package. Family members may not be able to make medical decisions... “end of life” & healthcare decisions are left vague and ambiguous.
Probate If beneficiary designations are not made, assets may still be distributed through a probate process. Property and accounts are already titled to the trust, so the trustee can distribute at death without probate. Family members can expect increased costs and processing time through probate.
Court Procedures
& Timeline
If a Will is processed through the probate court. Usually takes 9 months to 2 years before heirs inherit. Successor Trustee(s) can take control of all estate assets quickly. Court will need to designate an executor, and distribution delayed an undetermined amount of time.
Estate Fees Studies show, usually between 2% and 7% of the total value of your estate ($2,000 - $7,000 for an estate worth $100,000). Minimal or no court costs and significantly lower legal fees, if any. Studies show, usually between 2% and 7% of the total value of your estate ($2,000 - $7,000 for an estate worth $100,000).
Privacy Wills processed though the courts may be public records. Trusts are not public record. Proceedings will be public.
Package Details
(through Desert Schools Financial Services)
Includes a Beneficiary Deed, Financial POA, Healthcare POA & Living Will. Includes pour-over Will,
Beneficiary Deed, Financial POA, Healthcare POA & Living Will.

View a full version of the chart, which includes information on Beneficiary Deeds, Financial Powers of Attorney, and Heathcare Directives.

We invite you to schedule a no cost, no obligation appointment with a DS Wills & Trusts Client Service Representative.  Representatives are available to meet you at any branch location.  To get started, simply click the "Get Started" button above.