Do You Need a Will if You Set up a Trust?

If you are in the process of planning your estate, you probably have a lot of questions. You may have heard that you have two main options — a will, and a trust. This is accurate, but it raises another question. Do you need to have a will if you choose to use a trust as your primary way of passing on your possessions? This guide will explain the answer.

Choosing What Is Right

Many people make the wrong assumption that they have to choose between a will and a trust. These two options are not mutually exclusive, and it is completely possible to have both. However, are there any benefits to having both?

The reality is that trusts and wills are quite different and are useful for different situations. This means it may be beneficial to have both for your estate. Of course, it is possible that you will only need one, which is also an option. No matter what you do, however, it is always recommended that you have a will. This is because a will does more than just handle passing on possessions. There are several legal purposes that a will serves, and it can artificially lengthen the administrative process after your passing if you do not have a will.

What a Will Does

So what legal reasons are there to have a will besides making the process of sorting out your estate as quick and easy as possible after your death? A will basically has three functions:

  • Determining who will receive each of your possessions
  • Determining who will be the guardian of any minor children
  • Determining who your executor is

Most of these functions are easy to understand, but you may not know what an executor does. This is essentially the person who is responsible for ensuring that your final wishes are carried out. If you do not name your executor before your death, the courts will assign one to your estate. In most cases, it will be your spouse or closest living relative.

Advantages of a Trust

You now know why you might want a will over a trust, but what does a trust do that a will cannot? The biggest advantage is the ability to put restrictions or conditions on your possessions. For example, you could designate that your grandson should receive your car if he is over 18 years old, or $1000 if he is under 18 years old. That is something you cannot do with a will. Speak to a wills and trusts lawyer, like a wills and trusts lawyer in Sacramento, CA, to learn more.

Thanks to Yee Law Group, PC for their insight into some of the differences between a will and a trust.