What’s the difference between a will and a revocable trust?

A trust is an arrangement in which you provide for someone to administer and invest assets for the benefit of your beneficiaries. In a revocable trust, you maintain control during your lifetime and can amend or revoke the trust at any time.

A revocable trust would act like a will when you die. It has the following advantages over a will:

• Assets titled in the name of the revocable trust are not subject to the probate process upon death, saving time and money.

• A revocable trust is like a power of attorney to allow for the management of the trust’s assets upon the grantor’s incapacity.

• A revocable trust is a private way to manage one’s affairs and to dispense of one’s assets. Unlike a will, a revocable trust does not become a part of the public court record.

• A revocable trust is more difficult to contest than a will.


• Having assets in a revocable trust does not necessarily minimize or avoid estate taxes.

• A revocable trust is not necessarily appropriate for someone with a small (or a simple) estate. A will may be more appropriate as probate should not be a concern.

Even if you have a revocable trust, you still need a will. A so-called “pour-over will” is used to make tax elections, appoint a personal representative, appoint a guardian for minor children, and transfer assets to the trust that were not titled in the name of the trust.

2021 Digital Almanac

Stay Connected

Latest Forum Posts

Ask the Expert

Have a question regarding your federal employee benefits or retirement?

Submit a question