Atlanta Estate Planning, Wills & Probate | Siedentopf Law

Do You Need a Will if You Have a Trust?

Will or Trust? As Sarah shared, we always recommend a Will with a Trust. You may feel like it’s an extra step, but it’s really like having an amazing safety net for your estate plan.

You may be coming to this video and article because you already have a trust in place— perhaps it’s been in place for years and was put together by an estate planning attorney, or more likely, it may be a document that you DIY’d and you’re wondering if you have everything you need.

If all you have is a Trust, you definitely don’t have enough. And if any portion of your estate plan is DIY’d we highly recommend consulting with a skilled estate planning attorney. We’re not trying to convince you to pay for things you don’t need. We promise. We just want you to have everything you need to protect your estate for your lifetime and for your loved ones after your passing. To learn more about why DIY Trusts are a terrible idea, visit this article.

So, let’s go over the two main reasons why we believe you need a Will even if you have a perfectly drafted Trust.


#1 – Only a Will can Designate a Guardian for Minor Children

Your children are the most important thing in your life and caring for them is the biggest responsibility of your life.

Only a Will can name a legal guardian for your minor children. This is the number one reason you should have a Will— even if you have a Trust.

If you don’t have a valid Will designating a guardian for your children, the Court will have to decide who gains custody of your minor children at your death. This is something you never want to happen. Your children may be put in the custody of someone you wouldn’t prefer, potentially separated from each other, or in rare cases put into the foster care system.

This is the most important reason to have a valid Will. It’s also very important to discuss guardianship with the individual(s) you plan to name to ensure they would intend to say yes.

#2 – The Pour-Over Will Saves Time and Money if Probate is Needed

A Pour-Over Will is that safety net we mentioned above. It is a Will that, more or less, states “I have a Trust. Everything should be in the Trust. But if I missed something, I am saying I leave it to my Trust and I want it to be run through probate as quickly as possible.”

The goal of a Trust is to never need the Pour-Over Will and the goal of the Pour-Over Will is to never have to probate it. As mentioned above, it’s basically insurance for the event that not everything gets into the Trust.

The secondary reason for having a Pour-Over Will is if there are any insurance claims or legal settlements that may take place after your death. If you were to be killed in a car accident or a medical malpractice incident, it is likely there would be a lawsuit. Any judgments or settlements from that legal proceeding would go into your estate, not your Trust. This is where the Pour-Over Will comes into play and takes those awards through probate as quickly as possible and puts the monies into your Trust to be used in the same way you outlined for the rest of your estate.

As you can see, a valid Will is a very important piece of any estate plan. The professionals at Siedentopf Law are here to ensure your estate plan has everything it needs. Give us a call today at 404-736-6066 or visit our website to schedule a consultation.

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