Pour Over Will – Why use One?

pour over will

A pour over will is most often used in conjunction with a living trust. It is a specific type of a will that serves a very precise purpose in estate planning.

What is a Pour Over Will?

A pour over will allows you to distribute property that was either not included in a living trust or was acquired after you established the trust. A pour over will does not stand on its own; it always complements a trust to ensure the estate is always properly protected.

Why Should I Use a Pour Over Will?

You should use a pour over will if you have property that is not included in a trust. In short, when you use a pour over will to complement a living trust, you ensure that ALL assets and property belonging to you are properly distributed according to your wishes upon your death. A pour over will, in conjunction with a living trust, guarantees the laws of intestacy don’t eventually hold up the contents of your estate.

Using a Pour Over Will in Conjunction with a Living Trust

While the owner of an estate is still living, he or she sets up a living trust. And the trust goes into effect once the estate owner signs it. The pour over will then serves the important purpose of covering any “pour over” property or assets the estate owner did not include in the living trust.

Pour over wills catch any errors in the living trust and allow all assets to be transferred to the trust upon the testator’s (estate owner’s) death. This allows all assets of the estate to go directly into the trust and therefore into the hands of the correct beneficiaries.

What Should I Include in My Pour Over Will?

A pour over will must name the executor, the individual who will take control over the unnamed or forgotten assets. The pour over will must also provide a clear indication of how the executor should act in regard to the estate.

It is important to name a responsible and trustworthy adult to act as your executor. The executor of the will need not be a family member nor even a close friend; it can be someone whom you entrust to carry out your wishes.

Finally, a pour over will may also name a guardian for minor children; living trusts cannot name guardians for minor children. Individuals who want to make sure their children are cared for in the event of their death use pour over wills to name a guardian, and even a backup guardian, who will care for their children upon their death.

Can a Living Trust Exist without a Pour Over Will?

Yes, a living trust does not need a pour over will to be valid. A pour over will is only used in conjunction with a living trust. A pour over will cannot stand on its own. In other words, a pour over will serves only to cover the extra or unforgotten assets of a living trust.

When is a Pour Over Will Useful?

Pour over wills are mostly useful when testators choose not to list all of their assets in the living trust during their lifetime. For example, vehicles purchased by a testator are often included in a pour over will. In addition, many testators choose to make a pour over will because they don’t want to transfer assets to a trust during their lifetime for tax reasons. For example, the transfer of real estate into a living trust may result in a property tax reassessment.

In addition, pour over wills become useful when testators fail to place their recently purchased assets or property into their trusts. For example, if a testator purchases a piece of real estate and he or she dies before placing the property into his or her trust, a pour over will ensures protection for the beneficiaries of the property.

Does a Pour Over Will Override Previous Wills?

Yes, the execution of a pour over will revokes any wills previously drafted. A pour over will ensures no conflicts with previous wills.

Must a Pour Over Will Proceed through Probate?

Yes, a pour over will must go through the probate process. Upon an individual’s death, the pour over will is validated by the probate court, and all assets not covered under the trust are transferred to the trust according to the pour over will.

A pour over will certainly has its place in estate planning along with your living trust, and it is a smart way to protect fully ALL your assets.