We have existing wills, but want to explore setting up a trust. Can they be used, or will they need to be re-created?
Maybe. It depends on your goals and purposes for establishing a trust (I.e. probate avoidance, nursing home protection, estate tax minimization) and whether your current wills align with those goals. Bring your documents to an attorney for review and they will be able to tell you.
It depends what the trust you will be setting up is and why. Once you are setting up the trust you may want to have what's called a "pourover will" that lists the trust itself as the beneficiary of the will, in which case you will certainly need new wills. Once you meet with an attorney and describe what your estate planning goals are they will be able to guide you in what will best accomplish that.
All answers provided on Avvo by Attorney Alexis B. Kaplan are not intended as legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client privilege between Attorney Kaplan and the questioner or anyone else using the website. Attorney Kaplan is licensed in Massachusetts, and does not practice law in any other jurisdictions.
As a general rule, when a person has a living trust as part of their estate plan, there is also a "pour-over will" that ensures that any assets that do not get transferred into the trust during life will be transferred into the trust after their death. If pour-over wills recommended or needed, those wills would replace your existing wills.
Ms. Willi is a tax attorney, CPA, and Ohio-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law, with offices in Westerville, Ohio. She serves client families and private business owners throughout Ohio. Ms. Willi responds to Avvo questions as a public service to help educate and provide general guidance to questioners, but her responses are not legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship. Her posts are provided for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for advice provided by an attorney or licensed tax professional. Her phone number is 614-890-0500 and her website is www.willilaw.com.
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