Do I need a will, a living revocable trust or both?

A common question in an estate initial consultation is whether or not the client needs a will, a living revocable trust or both.  As with all legal issues, the response is – it depends.

A will is a document that outlines how you would like to distribute your assets that can be probated, the legal process handled through the Circuit Court of administering a deceased person’s estate, more specifically distribution of assets including but not limited to tangible property and real property. If you are a parent of minor children, a will is also the document where you designate who will have legal guardianship over your minor children until they reach the age of 18.

A trust is a contract between you (the grantor/settlor/trustor) and your trustee (which can often be you as well) creating a legal fiction that can hold title to, or can serve as, the beneficiary of your assets.

A trust can be revocable (you can change it) or irrevocable.  A trust that you create during your life time is often termed a “living’ trust.  Revocable living trusts can be very helpful when minors are involved, when you have out of state property, a number of properties or when you would like to control distribution of assets past your death.  Irrevocable trusts are generally used when medicaid planning and estate tax avoidance is the clients primary goal.

Whether you need either or both will depend on your family.

If you have questions whether you need a will, a revocable living trust or both, our estate and elder law attorneys would be happy to sit down with you to discuss your family and your estate goals.  You can set up an initial consultation by calling (804) 423.1382 or emailing us at  We are here to help.