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Estate planning & probate needs may support a living trust

There is often a question among estate planning experts in Georgia and nationwide that pits the benefits of a will against those of a revocable living trust. In general, there is no innate conflict and no basic need to choose between the two. For purposes of estate planning & probate considerations, it is generally appropriate to use both a will and a living trust together. If it is decided to use a living trust, at a minimum the estate plan will include a pour-over will that will send the decedent's remaining assets to the trust at death.

The extent to which each is used will depend on the specific details of the will maker's facts and circumstances. In addition, the issue regarding wills versus living trusts is a particularly necessary topic for discussion and evaluation with one's estate planning attorney. That said, there are generally some benefits of the living trust that may point to their use in a plan.

Despite the fact that a will and a living trust can be used together, it remains true that where the client wishes to avoid probate altogether, the living trust can be particularly effective. It can be molded to take care of everything without the necessity of formal probate. Furthermore, a living trust may come in handy during life should the trust benefactor become incompetent; a trustee will act on behalf of the incompetent person.

In Georgia and elsewhere, assets can be put in a trust during life and administered for the immediate needs of a beneficiary who cannot manage assets on his or her own. In addition, the living trust is not a public document open to public scrutiny whereas the probated will and all related proceedings are public. Where long-term care is a consideration, assets can be transferred during life from the benefactor to a special trust so that qualifications for later Medicaid benefits may be preserved. When consulting with one's estate planning & probate attorney, the foregoing issues and several more will be evaluated to arrive at the client's most desirable and effective estate plan.

Source:, "Estate Planning: Why You Should Have a Revocable Living Trust", Aug. 18, 2016

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