With A Living Trust, Do I Still Need A Will?

The revocable living trust is an increasingly popular estate planning tool.  People often wonder, “Do I still need a will?”  

Yes, a will is still necessary;  however, it is a special type of will known as a pour-over will.  Here are three key reasons for having one: 

  1. The primary purpose of a pour-over will is to function as a safety net that ‘catches’ any assets you own and…that are not included in your living trust.  This will provides that such assets, which are subject to probate, will ‘pour over’ to the trustmaker’s living trust and be handled pursuant to the terms of that trust.  
  2. Another important purpose is to appoint a guardian for minor children.  Your trust determines how funds will be managed for your minor child and designates the trustee;  however, the guardian must be named in your will.  Note:  Even when all assets have been transferred to your living trust, a pour-over will may still need to be probated for the sole purpose of the guardian appointment.  This type of probate is generally abbreviated and inexpensive. 
  3. Last but not least, a will is the only vehicle with which you can revoke any previous wills and codicils (amendments).  Executing a pour-over will that revokes all such previous wills limits the possibility of interference with your new estate plan. 

While most of the ‘heavy lifting’ is done through your living trust, a pour-over will is an essential part of a well-designed estate plan.  Talk to your estate planning attorney or trust officer if you have questions.

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