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

A living trust can be a valuable estate-planning tool that can meet many of your estate-planning goals and needs. With a living trust, you can protect assets, avoid probate, reduce the taxable value of your estate, and provide for loved ones. A living trust may also provide other benefits depending on your situation and needs. However, you should also discuss a will with a Texas wills and trusts lawyer.

Why Do I Need a Will If I Have a Living Trust?

There are a few reasons why you need a will, even though you have a living trust.

1.  To act as a safety net for any assets not included in the trust

The trust manages only assets titled in the trust name. Any property that you own not titled in the trust name is subject to your probate estate, unless the property passes directly to a beneficiary or joint owner. If you want your trust to hold title to all property, you can create a “pour over” will that directs your personal representative to transfer all assets subject to the probate estate to the trust.

2.  To name a guardian for your children

You cannot name a guardian for your minor children in a trust document. Your will names a guardian for your children. If your children are under 18 years of age, you need to name a guardian to care for your child until his or her eighteenth birthday. Therefore, if you have minor children, a will is necessary to avoid a court-appointed guardian or your children.

3.  To avoid Texas intestacy laws

Without a will, assets not held in the trust are subject to Texas intestacy laws. Therefore, it is always best to have a will to ensure that any assets not titled in the trust are distributed to the correct heirs. An intestate estate, even a small intestate estate, can be more costly and time-consuming for your family members to probate than an estate involving a will. Having a will prevents your family members from dealing with unnecessary court involvement in your affairs.

Benefits of a Comprehensive Estate Plan

It may be tempting to create a living trust and use that as the only document in your estate plan. However, estate planning involves much more than a trust and a will. Your estate plan also includes documents that protect you and your assets if you become incapacitated.

A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint an agent to make financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Also, a medical power of attorney and a health care directive allow you to appoint an agent to make medical decisions and dictate your preferences for end-of-life treatment in case you cannot speak for yourself. If you do not include these documents in your estate plan, a court may appoint someone to make these decisions for you.

Contact a Texas Estate-Planning Attorney for Assistance

The benefits of estate planning far outweigh the time and cost involved in preparing an estate plan. Working with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney can also make the task easier and less stressful. Contact the Law Office of Carey Thompson today to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death.