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Biddle Law Estate Planning Blog

Monday, April 13, 2020

What Happens When a Will and a Trust Contradict?

You have probably heard a lot about both wills and trusts. While they are separate legal documents, they are both used to help create a comprehensive estate plan. Generally, these documents will work together, but occasionally they can conflict with one another.

Revocable trusts, also known as living trusts, can be changed at any time during the grantor’s life. Since wills do not take hold until after an individual passes, what the trust says must come first in such a circumstance.

Revocable Trusts Operate Separately from the Individual

Revocable trusts, which may include cash, bonds, equities, real estate, jewelry, automobiles, artwork, and other tangible property, are separate entities from the individual. When an individual with a revocable trust passes away, the assets in the trust don’t enter probate in the same way as the decedent’s personal assets do.

Probate is a legal process that ensures the validity of an individual’s will and the distribution of their individual property after they have passed. Property in a living trust is not actually owned by the decedent and therefore does not pass through the probate process. This means that an individual’s will does not reign supreme over a trust’s assets.

For instance, if a man leaves his house to his three children in a living trust, later remarrying and leaving the same house to his new wife in his will, the trust will take precedence and the children will be the ones to inherit the property.

Revocable Trusts Operate Separately from Wills

It is always imperative that an individual bears in mind that his or her revocable trust does not automatically follow his or her will upon their death. Since the way in which wills and trusts interact can be at times complicated and confusing, it is in your best interest to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in trusts and estate planning in order to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

It is also important to remember that a revocable trust only controls the assets that you place into it. In other words, even if you form a revocable trust, unless you actually move assets into it before you pass, the trust will not control those assets and they will be under the control of the will and the probate process.

Biddle Law Can Help with the Creation of a Comprehensive Estate Plan

No matter how old – or young – you may be, it is extremely important that you ensure the existence of a comprehensive estate plan. In order to achieve this, you should consult with a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney who can answer any questions you may have and walk you through the process. At Biddle Law, we care about your future together and want to assist in protecting your interests. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!


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