While not every estate fares better with a trust than with a will, it is often the case that a revocable living trust is a much better way to transfer assets than a will. Here’s why.
A will is a set of instructions that the Personal Representative (appointed by the Probate Court) uses to distribute assets to those named in the will to receive the estate (once all the bills have been paid, of course). The will is entered into probate; it’s part of the public record. The Court requires that notice of the death and of the probate process be published. The Court also requires that an inventory fee be paid to the court based on the value of the estate’s assets.
A trust, on the other hand, is a mechanism to transfer assets without going through the probate process. Unlike a will, a trust agreement is private. Publication of notice is not required (although there are situations when it’s still a good idea). There are no inventory fees due to the Court. Most important, though, is that a trust agreement is much more flexible, allowing you to defer distributions to beneficiaries, as well as to place certain conditions on those distributions.