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Adding a will to a trust-based estate plan

Georgia residents who wish to have more control over how their estates will be administered may choose to use trusts. Placing assets into trusts allows estates to avoid the probate process, but these benefits are only available if trusts are properly funded. When the grantor of the trust neglects to transfer all of their assets into the trust, a trust-based estate plan can be vulnerable. If there is no will in place, the assets that have not been transferred into the trust become probate assets. This means that the trustee will have no control over them, and they will be distributed according to state law.

This is why drafting a specific type of last will and testament may be a prudent step to take for individuals with a trust-based estate plan. What is known as a pour-over will is essentially a catch-all safety net for trust-based estate plans as it lists the trust as the beneficiary of any assets it does not already contain.

If the grantor of the trust dies before all assets have been placed into the trust, the pour-over will goes into effect. This ensures that trusts are properly funded. However, it is still wise to properly fund trusts as a pour-over will is still a will and subject to probate.

Attorneys with estate planning experience may advise their clients to review the provisions of trust documents on a regular basis to ensure that the documents still reflect their wishes. Trusts often place strict conditions on the distribution of assets to protect beneficiaries who have struggled with issues like alcoholism or drug addiction or are under the control of a manipulative spouse, but it might be wise to relax these provisions if the beneficiary involved has come to grips with their problems or divorced.

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