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If I Have a Living Trust, Do I Still Need a Will?

It is important for everyone to plan what happens to their assets after their death. An estate plan is a compilation of documents that provide for how to handle your affairs. You have probably heard of living trusts and wills and wonder whether you should have both documents in place. The answer depends on your particular requirements and what you wish to accomplish with your estate plan. An experienced estate planning attorney will answer your questions and help guide you through the process of drafting an estate plan that works best for your circumstances.

What is a Living Trust?

A living trust is also called a revocable trust. It is an arrangement that includes various assets and allows you, as the grantor, to make changes during your lifetime. The living trust may include a variety of assets such as checking and savings bank accounts, money market accounts, investment accounts, and more. The grantor remains in control of the trust until their death. At that time, the trust belongs to the person or persons they named. A living trust is revocable, which means that the person may revoke it at any time if they choose. Generally, a living trust does not go through probate.

How is a Will Different From a Living Trust?

A will, or last will and testament, is a document that states your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your death. A will may also include additional information, such as the guardianship of minor children in the event of your death. When you create a will, you name the person who will administer the will, also called the executor, as well as the beneficiaries. It is important to note that a will must go through probate when the assets have a total value of more than $50,000. If you have few assets, your beneficiaries will not need to go through probate.

Should I Have Both a Living Trust and a Will?

A living trust and a will each serve specific purposes, some of which overlap. Each document may be part of your overall estate plan. Whether you need a living trust as well as a will depends on the specific details of your situation. Both wills and trusts can be adapted to accommodate the best tax advantages. If you have minor children, a will is essential because it provides for the appointment of a guardian to care for them if you die. However, a trust may also be beneficial in that situation because it will protect assets until the children are adults.

Your circumstances will determine whether you would be best served with a living trust, a will, or both. An experienced attorney will review your information and help determine your options. Your attorney will create an estate plan that will provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind. An estate plan should incorporate all your assets and take care of your loved ones after your death. It can be complex and, therefore, it is best to seek legal guidance from a skilled lawyer. To learn more about estate planning, contact our legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. at (608) 784-8310 or online to schedule a consultation.

Published October 30, 2023
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