What are the advantages to using a living trust rather than a Will?

UPDATED: Oct 31, 2011

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What are the advantages to using a living trust rather than a Will?

I recently remarried and my wife and I each would want most of our own personal assets to go to our own children. My spouse and I own a home together in joint tenancy and we each have some life insurance and each of us has some retirement savings in an IRA, and I have a 401(k) and she has a 403(b). We are not worried about the $5 million federal estate tax threshold. Should we each create our own living trust? Do we need a separate living trust for the house?

Asked on October 31, 2011 under Estate Planning, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There is no simple answer, since what is right for you depends on all the circumstances, including tax consequences. If you have a home and other assets, it would be well worth your while to consult with a trusts and estates attorney, and likely also a tax or financial planner, to determine what is best.

That said, here are a few basis differences between an inter vivos (

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