Trusts vs. Wills: What’s the Difference?

Estate Planning
By Goodwin Como, P.C.

If you are considering how to establish a plan for the distribution of your property and assets now, as well as far into the future after your passing, you might be wondering how a trust and/or a will can help you accomplish your goals. To put it simply: a will becomes effective when the person who wrote it passes, while a trust is effective at the time of its creation during the life of the creator. A Pennsylvania estate planning from Goodwin Como, P.C. can help you determine what estate planning solutions best suit your unique needs. 

Trusts Segregate Assets During Your Lifetime and May Generate Tax Benefits 

A trust is a way to segregate a portion of your assets, or a specific piece of property, for the use and/or benefit of another. Trusts can have contingencies and conditions attached to them. For example, you could place a certain amount of money in trust for the benefit of your child, accessible only if they graduate high school, reach the age of 30 or any other condition you prefer. Designations made in your will do not become effective until you pass, and so you will not be able to observe the beneficiary’s enjoyment of those assets. 

Various trusts and estate planning tools we can help you with include: 

  • Revocable trusts 
  • Irrevocable trusts 
  • Irrevocable life insurance trusts 
  • Powers of attorney
  • Gifts 
  • Health care directives 
  • Wills 

Wills Determine the Passing of Property Upon Death and Must be Properly Executed 

When individuals pass without having established a will, their property is considered an intestate estate and will pass in accordance with PA Statute Sec. 2101. There is a complex list of rules that determines which relatives, in what order, will receive your property absent a will, and having an effectively executed will saves your family this entire process. An effectively executed will designates exactly how you want your property to be divided upon your death, and identifies an executor who will be responsible for ensuring that your wishes are respected. 


Your PA estate planning lawyer from Goodwin Como can advise you on what your options are in terms of designating an executor, including third-party options if you’d rather not place that responsibility upon a family member. Reaching out to discuss your goals and concerns is the best way to get started on an estate plan that suits your particular needs. 

Connect with Goodwin Como for Help on Your Case 

Identifying the best estate planning products and packages to accomplish your goals can be difficult, particularly given the various types of trusts there are the complexities of a will. To learn how we can help through your risk-free, cost-free initial case review, give us a call at 724-438-1616, or visit our site to schedule a consultation.