There is no limit to the importance of proper estate planning. It simply cannot be over-emphasized. The truth of the matter is that nothing in this life is a sure thing, and we do not know when our last day will be. None of us really want to dwell on this, and understandably so. But in order to protect your assets and to ensure that your family – rather than the state or unintended heirs/beneficiaries – has control of things once you are gone, you need to make things legally binding. At Lucé Law, PC, a question that I often receive is whether or not a client needs a will if they have already established a trust. Here are some reasons why having both may add security to protect your last wishes for your life’s work, and for your loved ones.
A Will Only Adds Surety
Surety in many ways, at that. The most important factor in the equation, especially in the cases of an unexpected death, is your family that’s left behind. Regardless if you are married or single, having a will is important if you want to be the one who determines where, and between whom, your finances are distributed. Of course, if you are married and your spouse is surviving, your wealth will be entrusted to your spouse, and your children, if you have any. But if you are single and leave no legal direction otherwise, it’s likely that the state you live in will ultimately decide which family member inherits. Remember that a living will also provide direction in the event of a debilitating medical event. So, even if you are unmarried, you can be in charge of the outcome.
We encourage starting estate planning to even the youngest of families. Another reason that writing a legal will is crucial is the guardianship of young children, should the worst ever happen. If you and your spouse both lose your lives, you do not want to leave their care to chance. Parents should start having those conversations with extended family members or close friends as soon as possible and meet with an attorney to begin drafting.
Trusts Do Not Cover Every Aspect of Your Finances
In this article from CNN Money, it is stated that a will is incredibly useful on top of an established trust, as many trusts do not deal with your total holdings, and only with certain assets. Something often forgotten is that a will can be amended at any time over the course of your life as circumstances change, or if you have a change of heart about someone intended to receive your money. The article also advises that while you are amending a will with an attorney, review who will receive major accounts like your IRA or 401(k), because they are automatically transferred to whomever you designate. Finally, if you have equity that you intend to add to the trust but never get the chance to, a will can make sure that those finances are moved where they are supposed to be.