We’ve had clients ask us this question over and over again. Well, first and foremost a properly created Trust can avoid probate, while a Will may not be able to do so. If a trust has been legally created and if assets have been properly transferred into the trust, then at the time of death, assets can easily be transferred to loved ones without the necessity of probate. This is a cheaper and hassle free option.
While a Will may indicate the intended beneficiary of your assets, if those assets are in your name alone at death, a probate estate will have to be opened, before your loved ones can gain legal title to those assets. Who wants to burden loved ones with expense and hassle of probate.
A Trust can also be a helpful estate planning tool while you are alive. Should you become incapacitated or be deemed incompetent, your successor trustee can easily take over the handling of your affairs.
But what if I already have a Trust? Do I still need a Will? The answer is Yes. The Will is the back up for any assets that you have inadvertently left out of your trust or forgotten to transfer into your trust. The Will can be drawn up as a Pour- Over Will which essentially indicates your intention to transfer any left out assets into your trust, at death. While these assets will still have to be probated, if they are in you sole name, you can at least rest assured that they will ultimately reach your intended beneficiaries and not be distributed according to state law.