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Conflicting information in estate plans can cause issues

Creating an estate plan is often considered a major step in many Illinois residents' lives. You and numerous other people may have put off planning for one reason or another, but now, you feel the time has come to get your affairs in order.

Though having an estate plan can certainly bring about some peace of mind, it is important that the documents created do not conflict with one another. If you want to have a comprehensive estate plan, you will likely need multiple planning tools, including a will and a revocable trust.

Using a revocable trust

A revocable trust can have many uses, including protecting assets and keeping those assets from having to go through the probate process. This tool is also known as a living trust because it goes into effect as soon as you create it. However, you have to fund the trust in order for it to be of use. Funding the trust means that you transfer assets to the ownership of the trust, such as signing over a title or deed to the trust. If you fail to do this, the trust is essentially useless. 

Conflicts with your will

Even if you use a revocable trust, a will is still a vital planning document. You could use it to indicate that any assets not placed in the trust at the time of your death should pour over into the trust, and you can use it to make specific bequests and detail other important information.

If you include different information in the trust and in the will regarding the same asset, conflict could ensue. For instance, if you want to leave a car to your niece and say so through the trust but then state in your will that you want to leave that same car to a nephew, a problem arises. However, because the trust went into effect during your life and the will only goes into effect after your passing, the information in the trust takes precedence over the information in the will.

Other outcomes

The trust having the final decision is not the only outcome that could occur. As mentioned, funding the trust is important. As a result, if you did not title the car to the trust, the information in the will may instead play a more important role in the decision because the trust does not own the vehicle.

As you can see, any conflict of information could cause considerable difficulties when it comes time to settle your final affairs. Fortunately, you may lessen the chance of conflict by having an experienced estate planning attorney help you create those documents.

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Leonard F. Berg, Attorney at Law