If you are contemplating your estate planning choices, you may logically look at a will versus a living trust as an either/or proposition, like paper or plastic. In fact, if you were to use a revocable living trust as your primary vehicle of asset transfer, you should also have a couple of different wills tucked away within your estate planning portfolio.
When you create a revocable living trust, you convey assets into the vehicle. You can act as the trustee and the beneficiary initially, but you name successors to assume these roles after you die. After your passing, the assets that are contained within the trust would be transferred to the beneficiaries outside of the time-consuming and costly process of probate.
The trustee would follow instructions that you leave behind in the trust agreement, so the assets would be distributed in precise accordance with your wishes.
You should put your estate plan in place when you are a relatively young adult, so you may acquire property after you originally create your living trust. Some of this property may still be in your direct personal possession at the time of your passing. For one reason or another, you may not have chosen not to convey certain property into the trust.
If you create a pour-over will when you devise your estate plan, this document would allow the living trust to absorb property that was in your personal possession at the time of your passing. As a result, it could be distributed to the beneficiaries along with the rest of the property in the trust outside of probate.
While we are on the subject of wills that you would want to include in your estate plan even if you have a living trust, we should point out the importance of the legal device called a living will.
Many people become unable to communicate decisions at the end of their lives. Doctors can sometimes keep people alive indefinitely through the use of life-sustaining measures. Would you want to be kept alive even if there was no hope of recovery? There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but you answer it when you create your living will. In this document, you state your wishes regarding the utilization of life-support, and doctors would be compelled to follow your instructions. You probably have innumerable questions if you are looking ahead toward your elder years and the financial legacy that you will be leaving behind to your loved ones.
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