There are a number of different types of trusts you may create to protect your Tennessee estate both before and after your death, and they each have benefits.
If you create a trust, though, do you still need a will?
Purpose of a trust
As the Tennessee Bar Association points out, your trust only protects the assets that you convey to it. The trust is its own entity, separate from you, and to put the assets in the trust, you must transfer the titles of the property from yourself to the trust. Once the trust owns them, they do not have to go through probate after your death.
However, suppose you create the trust, but then you later purchase a new home. You have already designated in the trust that you want all your property to go to your nephew upon your death. But, you do not transfer the real estate to the trust, and when you die, it is in your name. If you do not have a will, the house automatically goes to your closest heir based on Tennessee’s intestate succession laws, which could be your sibling or parent rather than your nephew, depending on what relatives survive you.
Purpose of a pour over will
A pour over will is a sort of catch-all document that works in conjunction with the trust. In it, you can state that you are leaving all your possessions to your trust. After your death, all your assets become the property of the trust, and all the instructions you left for the trust take effect.
Assets that are in a trust do not have to go through probate, but assets transferred to the trust from a pour over will do still have to go through probate before the transfer. If you want to take advantage of the benefits of skipping probate, it may be a good idea to transfer all major assets to the trust at the time that you purchase them. Your situation is unique, so although this information is provided to give you an overview, it is not legal advice.