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Idaho Estate Planning Do I Need A Will If I Have A Trust?

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I enjoy being an estate planning and probate attorney because I find that I have the ability to help people solve problems and answer their questions when they come up. One of the questions that comes up often has to do with whether a person should have a trust as part of their estate planning. The answer to this question depends on the circumstances of the individual and of their family members and loved ones.

Sometimes, I have people who already have a trust as part of their estate planning. In this instance I sometimes get the question of, “Do I need a will if I have a trust?” This is a good question, and it deserves a straightforward answer.

The purpose of this article is to explain several of the reasons why a person should always have a written last will and testament even when they have other estate planning documents in place such as a trust. In answering this question below with more detail, our hope is that you will find the information you need to help you understand the different roles that are played by trusts and wills when it comes to estate planning.

As the premier Idaho estate planning lawyers, our team at the Racine Law Firm includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each attorney on our Idaho estate planning team has earned the highest ratings, rankings and reviews possible from clients and from several legal rating services including Justia, Martindale & Hubbell, and AVVO. Our team of Idaho estate planning lawyers have the expertise and knowledge to benefit each of our clients specifically and individually.

Purposes of a Trust

As an estate planning document, a trust can serve several purposes depending on the circumstances of the person creating the trust. It can also depend on the family members and loved ones of the person who owns the estate plan.

For instance, suppose you have an individual who has a debilitating disease. This individual may want to place all their money and property into a trust, so they have a plan in place for caring for themselves while they are alive. This type of trust also allows for the distribution of the money and property from the trust to others once the individual who created the trust passes away. This can be done without a probate which makes the process much simpler.

As another example, suppose you have parents who have a child with a disability. In this circumstance, the parents will likely want to care for and provide for this child throughout their lifetime, even after the parents are gone. A trust is a useful way of providing for a disabled child financially, without ever giving any money or property directly to the disabled child. This could be useful because a disabled child may already be receiving benefits from state or federal programs. When this occurs, an inheritance received directly by the disabled child could eliminate that child’s eligibility to continue to receive those government benefits. A trust can receive the inheritance for the disabled child, which allows the child to continue to receive the government benefits.

Additionally, suppose you have a child who has addictions or who is a minor, which means they are under the age of 18. Under either of these circumstances a parent can use a trust to provide for their children without giving the money or property directly to these children. This could go on for the remainder of a child’s life or until the child reaches an age or a circumstance where they are capable of handling the inheritance on their own.

There are an endless variety of ways that a trust could be used to take care of any number of particular circumstances that could arise either in your own life or in the lives of your children or other family members or loved ones. Because of this trusts are an incredibly useful tool for estate planners and for individuals completing their estate planning.

Purposes of a Will

But, if you do have a trust, or a variety of trusts as part of your estate plan, do you still need a written will? The answer is always yes.

A last will and testament is a useful document for parents. In this document, you may have some children who may need a trust and other children who don’t. It could be that you have some children who are under the age of 18 and others who are over that age when you create your written will. You are concerned that those who are still minors may need to be taken care of while those who are already legal adults, may not need that help.

A written will can be used to create a testamentary trust for any children who are under the age of 18 when you pass away. Additionally, your written will also provide you an opportunity to nominate guardians for any of your minor children. Additionally, a written will gives you the opportunity to specifically disinherit a child if you believe that would be best.

Even when none of these circumstances exist, and you already have a trust set up and funded as part of your estate plan, a written will is still important. It’s possible that after you created your trust, you acquired other money or property that are not already contained in your trust. When this occurs, your written will can be used as a tool to transfer your ownership interest in any property that you own individually to your trust at your death. This then allows the trust to be the controlling document when it comes to Distributing the money, property, and other Assets in your estate to your children, other family members or loved ones.

So, do you need a written will even when you have a trust? The answer is almost always yes. If you have questions or concerns about how a written will or a trust can be used as part of your estate plan, please contact us for a free 30-minute consultation. We would be happy to discuss this with you and answer any other questions you have about estate planning.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney To Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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