What is the difference between an Oklahoma Revocable Trust and a Will?

Revocable Trust v. Will

Do you know what the difference is between a Revocable Trust and a Last Will and Testament?

Could you explain the differences to someone else who knew nothing about it?

This is one of the most basic of questions in Oklahoma estate planning and also one of the toughest to explain.

Lets start with the definitions:

A Last Will and Testament is a “legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his property at death.

A Trust is a “relationship whereby property (real or personal, tangible or intangible) is held by one party for the benefit of another.

To be a bit more practical, lets look at what each document does:

A Will comes into effect when a person dies. A Trust is in effect from the moment it is signed.

A Will passes property to heirs upon a person’s death. A Trust owns property from the time it is transferred to the trust and may pass that property on at anytime in the future, before or after death.

A Will covers all property that is only in your name when you die but not property held in joint tenancy or in a trust. In contrast, a Trust, covers only property that has been transferred to the trust.

A Will usually goes through probate court. A Trust usually avoids the need to go through probate court.

A Will becomes a public document in probate court. A Trust is usually private never being exposed to public view or court.

A Will generally allows you to name a guardian for your minor children and specify funeral arrangements while a Trust does not allow these activities.

To find a bit more about the differences between the Revocable Trust and Will, check my post on when a Trust is better than a Will.

Note: Even if you choose a revocable trust for your estate planning, you are going to end up with a Will, sort of. In most instances a “pour-over” Will accompanies a Trust to send any property to the Trust which did not make it into the Trust during life.

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."