When I meet with clients for the first time, they are often surprised to learn there is so much more to an estate plan than a living trust. They think the living trust IS the estate plan. I explain that the living trust is the main tool of many estate plans, but there are many other tools in the estate planning toolbox. One of the most common tools is the "pour over will" that accompanies the living trust.
Clients ask, "Why do I need this will if I have a trust?" Well, the will is a special kind of will known as a "pour over will." The primary purpose of this kind of will is to serve as a back up to your living trust. If one or more assets are not in the name of your living trust, then probate might be necessary. Probate is the legal process by which the court supervises the transfer of assets. During the probate process, the judge will want to see the will because it simply tells the judge where you want your assets to go. If you have a "pour over will," then your will essentially directs the judge to "pour" all your probate assets into your trust. In other words, your will basically states, "Judge, if I forgot to put one or more of my assets into my trust, please do so." Therefore, if you have a living trust, you will need a pour over will as a back up.
If you want to learn more about estate planning and the legal tools available to protect your family, call (661) 414-7100 to schedule a consultation.
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