How A Trust Can Complement A Will

Law Blog

It's important to have a will to address questions of what happens if you pass or are incapacitated. A will on its own, though, often doesn't have enough power to do the job as well as possible. You may also want to establish a trust. Let's look at why that is and how a trust can complement a will.


Typically, a will and trust attorney encourages clients to consider potential delays in the transfers of assets. Consider what might happen if a person has a spouse with medical issues. The grantor of the estate wants to transfer personal, non-marital assets to their partner. If there's a will, the assets may have to make it through the execution process before the spouse has access to them. Worse, some scenarios might result in further delays due to probate.

With a trust in place, the assets are available immediately as long as the terms say so. Even if you're talking about a difference of weeks in the best scenario, this could be important. The spouse will have money to cover medical and everyday expenses right away. If their condition is severe, there will also be a trustee ready to assist them in managing the assets.

Limiting Exposure

If you're trying to limit how much exposure the assets receive, this can be a big deal. For example, a wealthy family might not want public records of their assets. A trust eliminates this possibility. This can reduce headaches related to people knowing who inherited what and how much. It also will reduce the potential for outside parties to interfere with the transfer.


When everything is contained within a will, there's less flexibility. For example, you might want to enjoy certain assets for a few more years while also preparing to transfer them to a descendant when they reach an appropriate age. You can set up a trust with no assets and then prepare documents that would execute the changes when you deem them appropriate. If something happens to you in the meantime, the will can then activate the trust and do the transfer.

You also can use a trust to transfer assets now. This carries the advantage of allowing you to see people enjoy the benefits. Similarly, you can have a will and trust attorney establish a trustee structure that affords the beneficiary support if they're not capable of handling the assets on their own. This also fosters continuity.


3 November 2021