Why Having A Trust Doesn’t Eliminate The Need For A Will In Pennsylvania
If you have used a lawyer to prepare your trust, you will also find that a well structured estate plan will also contain a pour over will.
Many people pay the extra legal fees for a living trust so that they can place all of their assets into that trust and escape the need to probate a will. However, the mere fact that you have a trust does not eliminate the need for a will. In fact, a plan without a pour over will is a disaster waiting to happen.
If you have created a trust, your will is still the document that will control assets remaining in your name at the date of death. And, even if you are meticulous in changing the title and account names of all of your assets over to the trust, you may 1) miss an asset, 2) inherit or otherwise receive assets which do not get titled into the trust before your death, or 3) become involved in an accident or other lawsuit that results in an award being paid to you (or your estate) rather than your trust.
If that happens, and you do not have a will, you will then have a partial intestacy and the courts will decide where those assets go based on the Pennsylvania intestate laws.
And if you’re the type of person who wants his or her affairs to be organized so that your heirs have lower costs and simplicity, that is not a desirable result.
So what is the solution?
Make sure that your lawyer prepares both a living trust, and a pour over will. The pour over will is a simple document that instructs your executor (only if needed) to take any assets which remain in your name, and which have not been transferred into your trust prior to death, to be added to and distributed under the trust.
Simple. Inexpensive. And, your plan works.
Trust Warning For Living Trusts Purchased in The Last Ten Years:
P.S. Be sure, that if you have a living trust, that was prepared by a non attorney in the last few years, to consider having it reviewed. It may be fine. However, the Pennsylvania attorney general pursued a number of “trust mills” over the last few years who used non-lawyers – or vague references to lawyers that the consumers never saw. These trusts are often presented in customized binders but the documents themselves are very standardized and may not actually state your true intentions. To make matters worse, many of these trust documents are way too complex and might actually cost your estate money rather than save dollars.
Finally, due to a number of changes in the federal estate tax laws, your trust may be able to be simplified to remove estate tax references and techniques that you might no longer need and which might make your estate and trust costs higher for your surviving spouse or children.
You can have your estate plan reviewed by calling 610-933-8069 and mentioning this discount code for a complimentary consultation – Code: Frees2010.