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We’ve all seen movies and TV shows that depict potential beneficiaries huddled in an attorney’s office, anxiously awaiting the reading of a deceased family member’s Last Will and Testament. Upon learning that Great Aunt Agnes bequeathed her mansion and millions to her cat, the wails of the greedy family members can be heard echoing the city streets.


This scenario may make entertaining television, but it generally doesn’t occur in reality. In most cases when the decedent has planned ahead, it isn't the Last Will and Testament that's relied upon - it's the Revocable Living Trust (RLT). 

So what is the purpose of a Last Will and Testament, then? Basically it serves as a back up to the RLT. The RLT is the principal document but if there are any assets that are left outside of the RLT after you pass, the Last Will and Testament - which is commonly referred to as a Pour-Over Will  when it backs up the Trust - ensures that those assets still get distributed pursuant to the terms of your RLT. 


One of the main benefits of having a Will is the ability to name a guardian for your minor child(ren). 

In the event that you are unable to care for your children, the Will nominates an individual or couple of your choosing to look after them until they reach the age of 18.


A Will and a Trust are similar in that they both stipulate to whom your assets will be distributed to upon your passing. But a key difference is that a RLT avoids probate. Property left through a Will passes through probate, meaning the court oversees the Will’s administration to ensure that the assets are properly distributed.

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