Practice Areas


Wendell L. Belknap
411 5th Street
Oregon City, OR 97045

Tel: 503-657-8946
Fax: 503-655-2775

Email Wendell


Wills and Revocable Living Trusts

While there are many ways to direct how you want your assets to pass upon your death, most people use either a will or a revocable living trust to specify how they want their assets to pass, and to whom. Wills are less expensive initially, but usually require probate, which involves a greater expense on the death of the maker of the will. Living trusts are more expensive initially, and continue to cost money while you are living (due to the need to “maintain” the trust), but usually avoid probate, making them less expensive on the death of the maker of the trust. They are two different roads to the same destination. Which road you select depends on your individual needs and preferences. For a comparison of wills and trusts, CLICK HERE. Otherwise, set forth below is information about each. Please contact me if you wish to discuss these options further.


A will is a document which sets forth how you want your assets to pass upon your death. Your property remains in your name (as opposed to a revocable living trust, wherein your property is transferred to your trust) and the will is not effective until your death. Upon your death, the will is admitted to court and the process known as “probate” is started. At that point your will is effective and we begin to act on its requirements. If you would like to read a short description of “Probate,” CLICK HERE. Generally, however, probate is the legal process necessary in order to transfer the title of the property from the decedent to the people the decedent listed in the will. Through a will, and then the probate process, you can also specify who will take care of your minor children and their property.

Revocable Living Trusts

A Revocable Living Trust is a way of transferring your property to an artificial entity (the Trust) before your death, while still having the use and/or control of it during your lifetime. The Trust owns the legal title to the property in it while you are still alive, and since a Trust does not end at your death, it will still own the property when you die. You put instructions in the Trust as to how the Successor Trustee (the person who takes over as Trustee upon your death or incapacity) should distribute the Trust property, and the Successor Trustee must carry out those directions. The primary purpose of a revocable living trust is to avoid probate. Many clients believe that revocable living trusts also protect their assets from the claims of creditors and/or avoid inheritance taxes. They are mistaken. The assets of a revocable living trust are fully attachable by creditors. And, while a revocable living trust can minimize or eliminate inheritance taxes if done properly and with that intent, a will may also do so. A revocable living trust does not minimize or eliminate inheritance taxes simply because it is a trust. A revocable living trust is a document addressing only assets. As such, you cannot specify who will take care of your minor children by a revocable living trust.