Phoenix Estate Planning Attorneys
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Do I Need a Will If I Have a Trust?

When it comes to preparing for your future, you may not know where to begin. Everyone wants to pass their assets on to their loved ones quickly and with as little pressure or trouble as possible, but many people don’t know what it will take for them to be able to do so. The answer isn’t usually straightforward; your estate is as unique as you are, so your plan will also be individualized. Many people, however, think that simply writing a will or setting up a trust should take care of everything and they won’t have to worry about it further.

Do I Need a Will If I Have a Trust?

If you’ve been doing research into estate planning, you’ve likely learned that a will doesn’t pass on any of your possessions until you have passed away, but even then this still subjects you to the probate process. Instead, setting up a living trust is usually the far better way to go about preparing for your future since it allows you to pass on your assets without being subjected to probate. But that doesn’t mean your will is pointless. In fact, it’s strongly recommended that you also have a will if you have a living trust.

When you prepare a living trust, it’s strongly advised you create a short “pour over” will at the same time for two reasons. First, if you have any minor children, it names a legal guardian for them and prepares for their future. Second, a will can act as a sort of safety net and send any “forgotten assets” back to your living trust.

What is a forgotten asset? Say you purchased a piece of fine art (an original from a famous painter) later in life and passed away without adding it to your trust. This piece of art is extraordinarily valuable and adds a lot to your estate. Because it’s not part of your living trust, this piece of art would then possibly become subject to probate, which means it would likely be sold off and the value distributed according to the court. A “pour over” will would instead indicate that this piece of art is a “forgotten asset” and send it to your living trust, where it will be controlled by your trustee. It may still have to go through probate since you did not explicitly change its title while you were alive, but it can help add it to your overall estate plan to ensure it all stays together.

It’s important to remember that this is a safety net, not a primary method of planning for your future. The best way to preserve your assets for your loved ones is to indicate beneficiaries and fund your trust while you are still alive. If you remain diligent, when you pass away, the vast majority of your assets should pass to your loved ones with little to no difficulty, and possibly avoid probate all together.

At Thies & Lihn, PLLC, we can provide you with nearly 30 years of combined exceptional client service and impeccable legal knowledge to help you prepare for your future. Whether you need assistance creating a living trust, writing a will, or creating a guardianship for your children, our Phoenix estate planning lawyers can provide you with results-driven and trustworthy legal advice. We understand how difficult it can be to face the future, and we strive to handle each case with the utmost professionalism and tact that you would come to expect form one of the premiere estate planning law firms in the city.

Call Thies & Lihn, PLLC now at 602.900.9860 and ask to receive a free case review and prepare your estate for the future!