Will –The type of Will that is used for a person that has established a Revocable Living Trust, is a “pour-over Will”. This type of Will distributes just the personal effects at death (furniture, furnishings, clothing, jewelry, etc., – everything from the toothbrush to the toaster) and “pours over” any bank accounts or other “cash/liquid/non-real property” assets into the Living Trust to be distributed in accordance with the provisions of the Living Trust.
Since all the investments, bank accounts, and real property is distributed by the Trust, leaving less than $100,000.00 of assets outside the Trust, there is no Probate procedure required. The Executor(s) of the Will are typically the same person(s) who is/are serving as the successor Trustee of the Living Trust. For accounts held in your name only at your death, just a simple Affidavit form is submitted to the bank or other financial institution, 40 days after you death and all those funds/assets are released to your Executor.
The other typical function of a Will is to name legal guardians for minor children (under the age of 18).
Will Only – If a person dies and only has a Will and no Living Trust, then their entire estate is processed through the Probate Court at a financial cost of tens of thousands of dollars and a “cost” of two years or more on Court hearings, pleadings, detailed reports, etc. (see Frequently Asked Questions – Avoiding Probate Court, for more details)
No Will – This is the worst case scenario – at the end of an even more time-consuming, more costly Probate, all assets are distributed according to state law. This is the “Oh, I just got notice that I am receiving a few thousand dollars from an uncle I never met” situation you hear about. All your assets are divided into small shares, given to relative you may not know even existed.