Do I Need a Will if I already have a Trust?

I already have a living trust. Do I still need a will?

The short answer is yes. The reason for this is that a trust only controls the property that you transfer into it or title in the name of the trust. This is why funding your trust is so important! Most of us are continually buying and selling  property during our lifetime. We are also continually opening and closing accounts such as bank accounts and investment accounts. 

To enable your trust and your trustee to manage your newly acquired property and protect that property from probate, the property must be transferred into the trust. Sometimes, people simply forget they own something, such as an old bank account or investment account. Sometimes, people simply run out of time to transfer new property into a trust before they die. Any property left out of your trust that is titled in your name without a beneficiary designation could trigger probate and partial intestacy.

If you don't have a will, any property you acquire in your own name that you have not transferred into your trust or re-titled in the name of the trust will be distributed under the laws of intestacy. This means the laws of your state will decide who gets your property instead of you and your trustee. A pour-over will prevents partial intestacy and probate by sweeping this property into your trust when you die. It is an insurance policy against partial intestacy. 

How is a pour-over will different from a regular will? 

A pour-over will is very much like a regular will in terms of the types of provisions it contains and how it is executed. The main difference is that a pour-over will generally has fewer beneficiaries and frequently has just one primary beneficiary - your living trust. There are thus fewer beneficiaries to notify in probate. This simplifies the probate process and enables the trust to acquire the overlooked property and distribute it with the rest of your assets according to your wishes.

For more information about wills, trusts, and other estate planning options, call us at 704-887-5242 or fill out the form below to schedule a private consultation in our Ballantyne office. 

DISCLAIMER: This blog contains general educational information only. The information in this post does not constitute legal advice  to you and reading the information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Nancy Roberts or the Roberts Law Firm/Law Office of Nancy L. Roberts, PLLC. You should not rely on this information as legal advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek legal advice from an attorney you hire, who advises you based on your specific facts, circumstances, situation, and the appropriate governing law.

Nancy Roberts
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