The goal of estate planning is to ensure that all parts of that plan work together smoothly. This could include a revocable trust — also called a living trust — and a will. Unfortunately, though, that doesn’t always happen.
So, if there is a conflict between the two when someone passes away, what happens? Which one takes precedence? Does the estate have to follow the guidelines in the revocable trust or the will?
The answer lies in the fact that a revocable trust is already operative. The person creates that trust while they are still alive. They also create the will at this time, of course, but it does not become operative until they pass away. That’s when it goes into effect and the rules have to be followed. The trust, meanwhile, is already in effect.
Therefore, the revocable trust takes precedence. In situations where there is a conflict, the trust should be followed.
Most of the time, the difference between the two is not going to be so massive that it impacts the entire will. There are still many portions of the will that can be honored, even as the trust is, and it is still an important document. But any minor details that conflict are decided as laid out above.
It’s also worth noting that there are many types of trusts. The above applies to a revocable trust, which is one that can be changed or altered. Make sure you know exactly what types of legal documents you are dealing with and all of the options you have moving forward.