Law Offices of Robert M. Kaplan, P.C.
Schaumburg Family Law Attorney

Differences Between Trusts, Wills, and Probate

January 15, 2021
Posted By: Robert M. Kaplan
last will and testament paperwork with pen on top

Unless you’re an expert in estate planning, you might not be too familiar with common estate law terms such as “probate” and “trusts.” At the Law Offices of Robert M. Kaplan, however, we believe it’s important for everyone to have a basic understanding of the estate planning process and the preparation that goes into it—even if you’re young or have never thought about your will before. 

This blog post will briefly discuss the differences between three common buzzwords in the legal profession: trusts, wills, and probate.


Of the three terms mentioned above, you are probably most familiar with “will.” A will, formally known as a “last will and testament,” is a legal document you prepare before your death that outlines how your assets should be dealt with once you’ve passed away. Wills include instructions for caring for any children under the age of 18 you may have at the time of your death, as well as what should happen to your home and other financial assets. 

A will exists so that your surviving family members, as well as the court handling your affairs after death, can be certain of your wishes regarding your children and your money.


Unlike a will, “probate” is not an estate planning document. The term probate refers to the legal process of handling and administering an estate after someone passes away. Wills and related legal documents go through the probate process after an individual’s death.

Probate courts and judges exist to ensure that the wishes within wills are carried out appropriately and that all financial and material matters receive proper resolution. The probate process oversees the distribution of a deceased person’s assets and makes sure that accounts and debts are settled and that physical property falls into the right hands.


Trusts are legal relationships involving multiple parties that exist to ensure assets get transferred from one party to another party. Trusts are different from and typically more complex than wills, as they require a “trustor” to create a trust and transfer assets to a second party, known as a “trustee,” for the ultimate benefit of a third party, the “beneficiary” or “beneficiaries.” 

Like with wills, you create a trust while you are still alive, and you may continue to change the terms of some trusts for as long as you’re living. 

Speak With an Experienced Estate Attorney Today

If you have questions about probate in Schaumburg or need to learn more about preparing your estate, don’t hesitate to contact our law office today by calling (847) 845-9477.

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