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Should My Estate Plan Include a Will, a Trust, or Both?

Posted on in Estate Planning and Probate

San Antonio estate planning attorneyThe differences between wills and trusts are sometimes a source of confusion. Deciding whether you should have a will, a trust, or both, can be difficult, and is best done with the help of an attorney who understands your situation and needs. Everything from your family structure to the size of your estate to the nature of the property you own can influence the type of testamentary documents you use. In many cases, both a will and a trust can be used in conjunction to form a strong, cohesive estate plan. Because there are so many variables at play, it is generally a good idea to work with an attorney to create these important legal documents. 

Who Needs a Will?

Those with minor children almost invariably need a will for the purpose of naming a guardian. Parents can designate the individual they would like to become their children’s guardians in the event that both parents pass away while the children are still minors. 

The major downside of a will is going through probate, which can be expensive and time-consuming. However, Texas does offer a simplified probate procedure for smaller estates. A simple will may be the most expedient way to pass along estate property for those with less complex estates. 

Who Needs a Trust?

Those with more moderately sized estates may find that a trust is the best way to protect their beneficiaries. A trust can allow you to both bypass probate and make controlled distributions over time. Many people feel more comfortable knowing that their loved ones will continue receiving payments from their trust for many years to come, rather than handing them a large sum all at once. 

Keep in mind that there are many different types of trusts. The details of your situation will influence which trust or trusts you might want to consider.

When Should I Use Both?

It is quite common for both a will and a trust to be part of an individual’s comprehensive estate plan. Estate planning attorneys sometimes use what is known as a “pour-over will” to back up a trust. A pour-over will simply directs that any property of the decedent that did not make it into the trust for whatever reason should be funneled into the trust. 

Parents of minor children also typically use both - a will to name a guardian for the children, and a trust to set up a minor’s trust for the children’s inheritance. 

Call a Bexar County Estate Planning Attorney

Attorney Geoff Mayfield can help you understand all your options and then decide which testamentary documents are right for you. Our experienced San Antonio estate planning lawyer is skilled at building customized estate plans that match each client’s needs. Call us at 210-535-0870 to get started with a free initial consultation. 



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