August 22, 2023

Estate Planning 101: Trusts vs Wills & Probate

4-minute read
A Living Trust Beats a Will 10 out of 10 Times

...all documented estate plans are not created equal; the tools and strategies employed in the planning process can have a profound and enduring impact on the well-being of future generations.

Ensuring our loved ones are taken care of and our final wishes are carried out after we pass away is a top concern for a majority of people in the financial planning process. And yet, according to a 2022 survey by, only a mere 33% of all adults in the U.S. have documented their end-of-life plans in some way. This indicates a noticeable disparity between recognizing the significance of these plans and actually putting them into action. But all documented estate plans are not created equal; the tools and strategies employed in the planning process can have a profound and enduring impact on the well-being of future generations.

The purpose of an estate plan is to determine the beneficiaries of your assets, designate who handles responsibilities in the event of your incapacity or passing and outline the manner in which these tasks should be carried out. The best written documents are ones that successfully reduce unnecessary costs, mitigate potential family quarrels, and ensure your wishes are carried out after you pass. 

The three categories of estate planning: 

  • Intestate = Nothing set up, subject to probate.
  • Will = Documented end of life wishes, still subject to probate.  
  • Trust = Legal entity that can fully avoid probate. 

What’s probate and why avoid it?

Probate is the legal process of settling a deceased individual’s estate where the court oversees the distribution of assets — reasons to avoid it:

  • Access to liquidity - While the average length of probate is about 18 months, probate moves at the pace suits the courts, during which time surviving loved ones won’t have access to the assets. A lot of it is unavoidable in the process of probate; for example giving a specific amount of time from the notice that is sent out to any/all other potential beneficiaries to stake their claim on the estate’s assets. 
  • Privacy - The probate process is public and estate information is on display. Which can lead to family quarrels after seeing what others may be receiving.
  • Costs - The average cost of the probate process in the US is 10% of an estate. Said differently, for an estate valued at $1 million, that would be $100,000 that is no longer included in the legacy gift to survivors. 
  • Control - If probated, everything is subject to the court's interpretation. The best way to have control after you pass is to establish one or more Trusts tailored precisely to your preferences. Here’s a common example; beneficiaries do not have access to inheritance until they reach age 35 other than for health, education, maintenance, and support (HEMS). 
  • Not being a burden on the next generation - If you value leaving your affairs in a manner that provides a smooth transition for your loved ones, trusts are the way to do it. With a will, your named representative (normally an adult child or trusted friend/sibling) will be the person responsible for walking through the public legal situation. 

What's a living trust? 

A trust is a legal entity that owns the property and assets placed in it. If it’s “living,” that means it can be modified (revocable) during your lifetime and has the same tax ID as you (a separate tax return isn't necessary). After you pass away the trust becomes irrevocable, meaning it cannot be changed, and it then gets its own tax ID (and requires its own tax filing). 

The 3 role types in any given trust:

    1. Grantor(s): The person who funds a trust.

    2. Trustee(s): The person who oversees/manages the trust (can be the same or different than the grantor).

    3. Beneficiaries: The person who financially benefits from trust assets or income held/registered in the name of the trust.

It’s not enough to have one, you have to fund it - meaning you have to register/title assets in the name of the trust. 

At Pattern, we advise from the lens of each specific persons’ goals and values. A living trust is a great solution for someone with one or more of the following goals and/or values:

  • They want immediate liquidity for their survivors.
  • They want to avoid potential disputes between family members and other loved ones.  
  • They want to keep their estate private to protect their survivors from those that might come out of the woodwork with less than pure intentions.
  • They want to place inheritance contingencies to protect their heirs from themselves.
  • They want to ensure the best care for their adult dependents or loved ones with special needs.
  • They want to ensure the best care for their minor children.
  • They want to optimize the financial impact of their legacy. 

Everyone can benefit from using a living trust.  Fortunately, living trusts are not just for the elite. An increasing number of attorneys are offering them at reasonable rates. Our Pattern advisory team would love to connect with you about your specific legacy goals and what unique solutions are possible. Download the Pattern iOS or Android app to connect with a Pattern advisor today.

Need financial advice?

Our advisors have answers.
Join the Pattern waitlist and be the first to access a new type of money manager.

Other Articles You Might Like

Resources and articles, crafted by Experts.

Privacy Policy

Effective September 8th, 2022
This privacy policy (the “Privacy Policy”) discloses the privacy practices for Pattern Technologies Inc. and its affiliates (collectively, “Pattern,” “we,” “our,” and “us”) use the personal information we collect about you through our website, mobile application, and other online services (collectively, our “Services”) and when you otherwise engage with us. This Privacy Policy also describes how you can limit the personal information we collect about you. In this Privacy Policy, we use “customer” and “you” to refer to anyone who uses our Services.

By using our Services, you agree to this Privacy Policy. Your continued use of our Services after we revise this Privacy Policy means you accept any changes we make, so please check back periodically to our Privacy Policy for Updates.

Information Collection, Use and Sharing
We are the sole owners of the information collected on this site. We only have access to/collect information that you voluntarily give us via our mobile application, email, or other direct contact. We will not sell or rent this information to anyone. We will only use your personal information for the purpose for which it was collected.
Only employees who need your information to perform a specific job (for example, customer servicing) have access to personally identifiable information.​ We will use your information to respond to you, regarding the reason you contacted us.

We will not share your information with any third party outside of our organization, other than as necessary to fulfill a request you may have.
We may retain your personal information for the purpose of regulatory compliance. Our regulators require that we retain certain information about our customers for the purpose of documenting the quality and nature of advice we render, preventing money-laundering and the funding of terrorism, and fraud prevention.
​Unless you ask us not to, we may contact you via email in the future to tell you about (for example) new products or services, or changes to this privacy policy.​

Your Access to and Control over Information
You can do the following by contacting us at
- See what data we have about you, if any.
- Change/correct any data we have about you.
- Have us delete any data we have about you.
- Express any concern you have about our use of your data.
- Opt out of any future contacts from us.

Pattern  conducts online advertising across the Internet. Some of our business partners, including Google, place cookies on our website for remarketing – serving ads on various websites based on someone’s past visits to our website. You can opt out of Google’s use of cookies by visiting Google’s Ads Settings.​ We may use cookies on this site, but we do not link the information we store in cookies to any other identifying information you may provide us while using our services.

This web site contains links to other sites. We are not responsible for the content or privacy practices of these other sites. We encourage you to be aware of when you leave our site and to read the privacy statements of any other site that collects personally identifiable information.​

Anonymized Data
We may anonymize and aggregate data such that it is not personally identifiable in order to better understand customer trends, strengthen security, and improve our services.

Location of Services
Presently our services are only available to customers with a primary address in the United States, and who are US citizens or permanent residents.

Do Not Track Lists
Some web providers have the ability to transmit “Do Not Track” (“DNT”) notifications. At this time we do not recognize DNT notifications.

Child Privacy
Our Advisory services are not intended to be used by children. If we become aware that we have collected data without legally valid parental consent from children under thirteen (13) years of age, we will take all reasonable steps to delete it as soon as possible.

Other Sites We May Share Information With
We will only share your information with those organizations necessary to complete your requests. Performing securities transactions requires the involvement of several parties including third-party identity verification vendors, an introducing broker/dealer, and a custodian.

Pattern leverages “Plaid” to connect your bank account with your brokerage account, verify bank account information, and confirm the balance in your account prior to initiating a transaction. Plaid maintains a separate privacy policy which can be found here:

Our Privacy Policy may change periodically and updates will be posted on this page. If you feel that we are not abiding by this privacy policy, you should contact us immediately at

© 2022 Pattern Technologies Inc.

This website is solely for informational purposes. Nothing on this website should be considered an offer, solicitation of an offer, or advice to buy or sell securities.