Estate Planning Basics: You Have a Trust; Do You Also Need a Will?

Part 9 of a series breaking down the process of helping clients set up Trusts by breaking the issues down into smaller, individual topics, enabling the adviser and client to take the necessary steps, and get the plan moving. 

Since the client now has a Trust, are you saying the client does not need a Will?

Clients often think of Wills and Trusts as sort of mutually exclusive estate planning tools. You either have a Will or you have a Trust. However, just because the client has a Trust does NOT mean the client can skip the Will. Among several reasons to have a Will, here are two of the most important ones:

Guardians. If the client has minor children, at a minimum, the client needs a Will because that is where s/he designates (or, nominates) who will serve as Guardian if the client should die before the child(ren) reaches adulthood. Not identifying the choice(s) for a guardian can lead to protracted battles as families with competing interests fight over who gets to raise the children. And, sadly, their motivation may be access to the wealth the client is leaving behind for the children. Choosing a guardian who will be the best substitute for a parent should be the driving criterion.

Forgotten Assets. In our last topic, we discussed getting assets into the Trust as early as possible. It does happen that some assets get forgotten or neglected. It may also be property that is acquired AFTER the trust was created, and the thought never occurs to the client to get it titled to the Trust right away. This often happens when a person inherits property (such as real estate) after the Trust was created. If that property is not titled to the Trust during the client’s life time, s/he still needs a Will (with its pour over provisions) to get that asset (eventually) into the Trust.

In our next topic, we will tie it all together: once the estate plan is set up and funded, maintenance of the plan is the next goal.

You can view the first series of Wills and Probate Administration here and reach out to Dan with any questions. Our attorneys are always ready, willing, and able to meet and discuss any questions, help you articulate your plan and goals, determine the best plan to accomplish them, and then implement it. You will find that, by taking those small steps, the problem that used to lead to procrastination and uncertainty has been addressed and resolved. Learn more about Mansour Gavin’s Estate Planning & Probate group or contact us today.

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