Why do I need a trust and not just a will?

Trusts don’t go through the probate process. Probate is the legal process through the court system to transfer assets to beneficiaries listed in a will or if there is no will, through state intestacy laws (i.e., next of kin). Probate is a major disadvantage in the state of California because it typically will cost the estate 5X or more than a trust administration. It also usually takes 12-24 months even for straightforward probates due to the budget cuts in the court system. The court calendars are overloaded. The process is open to public inspection which opens the details of the estate to prying eyes and prospective con-artists. Trusts are private and avoid the major disadvantages listed above. Also, if you own real estate and want to avoid the probate of that asset, you really need to transfer it to a revocable trust or some sort of business entity (if appropriate).