A trust is a private agreement between the trust maker and the party designated to hold the trust assets (the Trustee) and handle them according to the terms of the trust without judicial supervision (probate).
A will is a legal document appointing and directing an executor to dispose of your assets as you direct provided that you are of sound mind and at least eighteen years old (in Virginia) at the time you make your will.
Probate is a judicially supervised process to oversee the payment of debts and taxes, and the distribution of assets according to the directions of the will. Probate in Virginia for smaller and simpler estates is not complex.
This is the document which is colloquially known as a “living will.” It provides for the cessation of life prolonging procedures if one is diagnosed with a “terminal condition” or is in a “persistent vegetative state” where the application of life-prolonging procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process.
This document empowers another person to make decisions about medical treatment when the patient can not speak for him or herself. With the continuing advancement of medical technology, a living will by itself is inadequate.
People should just not plan for their eventual death but also possible incapacity, even if it is temporary. There should be a trustworthy party who is legally able to conduct one’s affairs in the event of incapacity.