People who create their own estate plans often make the mistake of thinking that they only need to use one legal instrument and that it will take care of everything. This is usually a Revocable Living Trust. While a Living Trust is a great estate planning tool, it is probably not the only thing you need. Estate planning is more like putting a puzzle together to find the right fit between various legal instruments to effectuate your goals.
A Revocable Living Trust is only effective for the property that you transfer to the Trust. If you forget to transfer something or are unable to transfer something for some reason, than the Trust has no legal authority over that property. If you pass away before you can transfer everything into the Trust, the Trust will also not be effective. The normal solution for this problem is to execute a Pour Over Will. This is a very simple Will that directs that any property in your estate should be transfered to the Trust. That allows the property you didn’t transfer to be distributed according to the terms of the Trust.
There might be other estate planning instruments that you want to use with your Revocable Living Trust. Each person’s estate planning puzzle is different. An attorney can help you solve your puzzle.