Why do I need a Will if I have a Trust?

I had this question from a client the other day. We were signing a trust into being for a family and he looked at me and said, “Hey Greg, why in the world do I need a will when I am getting a trust?” Obviously thinking I had made a mistake or perhaps had gotten it wrong. The “it” being my job as an estate planning and elder law attorney. Not the first time I had gotten that question. I have in fact been told before that since I was drafting a will along with a trust, I must not know what I was doing. Well, trust me, I do (pun intended).

I chuckled a bit when my client hit me with that question and then I pulled out a piece of paper and began to draw and talk. I laid out the reason why I draft a will when drafting a trust and when done told him I needed to write about it because he was not the only one that had this question.

Avoiding the pain, expense, and month of Sundays it can take to probate a will through the courts is one of the main purposes and benefits of placing assets in a trust. Other benefits of trusts are asset protection,

Benefits of a trust:

Avoiding probate: Beneficiaries instead of heirs.

Liability protection: Separating yourself from your assets.

Ease of administration.

Limiting tax liability.

Endless options to control your legacy.

As beneficial as a trust may be I see estates all the time where assets the trust maker thought were in the trust were never properly placed into the trust. I also see many instances where checks come back in the decedents name, vehicles are not in trust, and more. All these things require a legal mechanism to change title to the heirs. A will is that mechanism. When I draft a will along with a trust I let the trust do the heavy lifting but create a will that I call a companion or pour-over will. Whatever is not in the trust is poured over into the trust for administration at the death of the trust maker. The will is essentially an insurance policy ensuring proper passage of your assets. So, for all those questioning why I may draft a will along with a trust it is because of my experience and I want to help your legacy to be realized. If I can assist you or your family with estate planning give me a shout.

Greg McIntyre

Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney

in Estate Planning, Probate, Tax Planning by Greg McIntyre Leave a comment
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