Do I Need a Will if I Have a Trust in Georgia?
People who have set up a revocable living trust often ask whether they also need a will in Georgia. After all, these trusts are often considered to serve as an alternative to having a will.
However, you should still have a will regardless of whether you have a trust. We'll take a look at the main reasons why a will remains essential even with a trust in place.
A Will Does Some Things That a Trust Cannot Do
If you have minor-aged children, a will can appoint guardians for them in case something happens to you. Georgia law does not allow you to use a trust to nominate a guardian.
In addition, a will can specify your preferences for how you want your body to be handled after you pass away. You might want to be buried, cremated, or have your body donated to medical science, and if so, you can include that choice in your will. A trust does not allow for that.
Providing a Safety Net for Your Trust
A trust focuses on asset management and distribution. If you have a fully-funded revocable trust, then you're not going to need the will to deal with any assets.
However, there's always the possibility that some probatable assets may not get included in your trust. Property can be overlooked or there might not be time to transfer newly-acquired property into the trust. In that case, the will serves as a backup plan for the trust.
The Pour-Over Will
When we create a will for a client who has a revocable living trust, we refer to the will as a pour-over will. Essentially, the will catches any probatable property that didn't make it into the trust and moves it into the trust through the probate process. Without a will, that property would be subject to the laws of intestate succession, and it may be divided or go to someone you didn't intend.
In a perfect world, the will won't be needed for this purpose because your assets would pass through the trust. However, we always want to make sure that our estate plans provide for all possibilities, so if an asset didn't make it into the trust, the pour-over will moves it there.
We want to make sure that you have a well-written will in addition to your trust just in case so your plans will be known and your wishes will be followed thoroughly and accurately.
Help With Wills, Trusts, and Other Components of Your Estate Plan
If you have questions about estate planning in Georgia, including wills, trusts, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney, we offer free resources through our website to help you understand your options. When you're ready to talk to an estate planning attorney to get started on a new plan or find out where you may need to make changes or additions to your plan, we invite you to contact us at 678-344-5342.