There are three different types of wills that you may have heard about – a stand-alone will, a pour-over will, or a living will.
A stand-alone will is a document in which you have the opportunity to (1) identify the people you would like to administer your estate upon your death; (2) dictate the plan for distributing your estate upon your death; and (3) nominate guardians for your minor children, if that is applicable. A stand-alone will begins working for you upon the date of your death, so it does not provide the lifetime protection that is provided by a revocable living trust. Depending on your particular financial situation, however, it may be appropriate for you to have a stand-alone will, rather than a revocable living trust.
In most instances, it is important that you have either a revocable living trust or a stand-alone will. If you do not, your estate will almost certainly have to be probated and your assets will be distributed according to the statutory intestate succession scheme, without consideration for your intentions or wishes regarding the distribution of your estate. Because the statutory intestate scheme only provides for legally-related family members, it is particularly important for LGBT folks who are not in a legally-recognized relationship to have documents in place to insure that all of their family members are provided for, irrespective of your legal relationship status.
A pour-over will is a document that is created in conjunction with a revocable living trust. The primary purpose of a pour-over will is to insure that your personal representative will “pour-over” any assets that were not titled in the name of your revocable living trust into the trust. This will insure that any such assets will be distributed according to the distribution plan you establish in your revocable living trust.
The term “living will” is actually a misnomer because this document is not a will at all. Instead, a living will is a document in which you provide direction concerning medical decisions that you would like your agent to make on your behalf in the event you become unable to do so. Such instructions can be included in an Advance Health Care Directive or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.
Please contact the Law Office of Naomi E. Metz to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your estate planning needs.