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If You Create a Revocable Living Trust, Do You Still Need a Will?

The answer is yes, you need a will even with a revocable living trust.  Your will and revocable living trust work in tandem with one another. A revocable living trust is a legal vehicle that provides lifetime as well as after-death management for assets and property.  It’s created during your lifetime and, as the trustor, you may change it at any time while you’re still living.

The successor trustee whom you name can manage the assets and property held in the trust if you become incapacitated or upon your death. By establishing a revocable living trust, you can avoid probate, prevent your financial affairs from becoming a matter of public record, avoid paying probate attorney or court costs, and your estate will pass directly to your beneficiaries. 

The assets that you transferred to the trust during your lifetime will pass under the living trust upon your death. However, not all of your assets can or should go into your trust. These include:

  • Qualified retirement accounts and annuities
  • Health savings and Medical accounts
  • Uniform Transfers to Minor Accounts (UTMAs) or Uniform Gifts to Minors (UGMAs)
  • Life Insurance
  • Motor Vehicles

In addition, you may neglect to transfer assets that should be held in your trust during your lifetime. Any assets outside of the trust will be subject to the probate process after your death. So, it’s critical to seek the services of an estate planning attorney to discuss the importance of having a will as part of your estate plan.

At the Jeffrey M. Verdon Law Group, located in Southern California, we have 30-plus years of preparing comprehensive estate plans to protect your assets and your legacy.

How do they work together?

Probate is the court-supervised process overseeing the distribution of any assets that are not held in a living trust. If you have an estate-based trust plan, you need to have a pour-over will that works in conjunction with your living trust. 

A pour-over will is a special type of last will and testament that states that any assets that have not been funded into your revocable living trust or assets outside the trust should go there upon your death. What a pour-over will does is name the trust as the beneficiary of any assets and/or property that it does not already hold and that do not pass directly to a beneficiary through some other mechanism such as a beneficiary that has been designated on a life insurance policy or a retirement account.

While pour-over wills still require probate, without one, any assets not held in your trust will pass to your heirs according the laws of intestate succession in the state of California.

Is your estate plan as good as it can be?

The question is whether your current estate plan is the best fit for you and your assets. To create the perfect estate plan requires a combination of living trusts and wills as well as asset protection planning.

Protecting your inheritance is the goal at the Jeffrey M. Verdon Law Group, attorneys you can rely on for complete estate planning.

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