Estate Planning vs Will vs Trust In Florida: What’s the Difference? 2024

May 12, 2024

Deciding whether to set up a will, trust, or an estate plan is never an easy task. To help yourself make a decision that suits your needs properly, it’s imperative that you understand the difference between these varying plans. Our team at the Law Office of Douglas A. Oberdorfer, P.A. is happy to walk you through the estate planning vs will vs trust distinctions in Florida and show help you find the right fit.

Defining Estate Planning, Wills, and Trusts

  1. Estate Planning

    An estate plan makes sure your estate is managed and distributed according to your wishes after you die or become incapacitated. Estate plans generally include multiple legal documents like a will, trust, power of attorney, and an advance healthcare directive to achieve your wishes. When done correctly, estate planning can reduce taxes, minimize probate costs, and ensure your wishes are executed properly.

  2. Wills

    A will is a legal document that explains how you’d like to distribute your assets after you die. You can use it to appoint beneficiaries, set up guardians for minor children, and name an executor to oversee your estate. Wills are part of the probate process, a court-supervised process in which your will is verified, debts are paid, and assets are distributed. While wills can be part of estate plans, they can also stand on their own.

  3. Trusts

    A trust is an arrangement in which assets and property are held by one party for the benefit of another. The party holding the property is called the trustee, and the person who will receive the inheritance is the beneficiary. While some trusts are revocable, others are irrevocable. Trusts can be used to avoid probate, manage property during your lifetime, or make specific instructions regarding the distribution of your assets.

The Main Benefits and Differences Between Wills and Trusts

Wills and trusts are often confused with one another because they are the two main kinds of estate plans. The following are the main differences between the two:


  • Simplicity: Wills are relatively simple and inexpensive to create.
  • Control: You retain full control of your assets until death, unlike with trusts.
  • Guardianship: You can appoint guardians for minor children or loved ones who require special care.
  • Probate: Wills must go through probate, which can be time-consuming and public.


  • Time and Money: Having a trust saves money and stress for your estate since it bypasses probate altogether.
  • Privacy: Trusts are not part of public records like wills are.
  • Trusts: If you become incapacitated during your lifetime, a trust can manage your assets. After your death, a trust allows for your assets to pass to your designated recipients according to your wishes.
  • Complexity and Cost: Trusts are more complex legally and are more costly than wills to establish and maintain.

How Does Estate Planning Differ From a Will or Trust?

Estate planning generally refers to a comprehensive approach that uses wills, trusts, and other legal tools together. This allows you to tailor your estate plan to suit your preferences and concerns regarding your possessions and beneficiaries. The more detailed your estate plan, the less likely your loved ones are to have issues during probate.

How to Decide Which Kind of Estate Plan Is Right for You

  • Asset Management: If you have substantial assets or complex family dynamics, a trust might be more beneficial.
  • Privacy: If privacy is a concern, trusts offer more confidentiality than wills.
  • Cost and Complexity: Consider the cost and complexity of setting up a trust versus a will.
  • Control and Flexibility: Determine how much control and flexibility you need over your assets during your lifetime and after your death.


Q: Is It Better to Have a Trust or a Will in Florida?

A: Deciding on whether it is better to have a trust or will in Florida depends on your particular needs and circumstances. Trusts help avoid probate, assure privacy, and provide a process for managing your assets during your lifetime. Wills are simpler and less expensive to draft and must go through probate. An estate planning attorney can help you figure out which option is right for you.

Q: Can a Will Override a Trust in Florida?

A: No, a will will not overpower a trust in Florida. However, a “pour-over” will could direct assets not added into the trust to pour over into the trust when you die. Generally, these wills and trusts can be used together. However, there are some instances where a trust can overpower a will. This is because assets placed in trust are governed by the terms of the trust, not the will.

Q: What Are the Disadvantages of Creating a Trust in Florida?

A: The main disadvantage of forming a trust in Florida is that it can be a complex, time-consuming process. Trusts take more time and effort to set up than wills. Additionally, there are multiple kinds of trusts that cannot be modified or revoked, which can leave you in a vulnerable place if you need to modify them. You should always talk to an attorney to better understand if a trust is right for you.

Q: Why Should You Use a Trust Instead of a Will?

A: Using a trust instead of a will can help you avoid probate, preserve your privacy, and manage your assets if you’re incapacitated. With a trust, you have the benefits of having more control over your estate and the ability to leave detailed instructions about the distribution of your assets without probate. Trusts can also help protect your assets from creditors and legal challenges.

Consult Our Florida Estate Planning Team Today

Choosing between a will, a trust, and a comprehensive estate plan can be difficult. However, these documents are necessary to protect the assets and your loved ones when you no longer can. The Law Office of Douglas A. Oberdorfer, P.A., we can help you better understand the different aspects of estate planning and what tools are right for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and start planning for your future.

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