Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

While you may have heard of a will, you may not have heard of a pour over will. A pour over will, however, can be a valuable estate planning tool when properly employed. In particular, a pour over will can be a great safety net if you have put a trust in place to hold your assets in order to avoid the costly and time consuming proceedings involved in probate. Read on to find out what exactly a pour over will does and why it can be such a useful part of your estate plan.

What is a Pour Over Will?

In a pour over will, which is a legal document, the remaining assets in a person’s estate automatically transfer to a previously established trust when they die. Pour over wills, thus, work in conjunction with a trust and a trust must have been previously established for the pour over will to actually be effective. One of the most common scenarios for the use of a pour over will is when a person establishes a trust and transfers all of their assets into the trust. This may be done for a variety of purposes; avoidance of probate is usually one such reason. A pour over will is then established. Should the person establishing the trust and the pour over will acquire assets after establishing the trust or fail to transfer any assets into the trust, upon their death, the remaining assets will be scooped up by the net that is the pour over will and placed into the trust.

If a person intends for all assets to pass via trust, does not put a will in place, and fails to transfer any assets into the trust, then the assets left out will likely pass via intestate succession. Intestate succession laws address property left by a decedent’s estate without a valid will in place. It is possible that property passing via intestate succession will not be in line with what the person would have wanted for those assets. Intestate succession laws often pass property to the closest surviving relative of the decedent. In the absence of any surviving relatives, the property would escheat, or pass, to the state.

A pour over will can work in tandem with a revocable or an irrevocable trust. Usually, smaller estate will utilize a revocable trust with a pour over will. A revocable trust allows the grantor of the trust, the person who created the trust, more control over the trust assets until they pass away. Larger estates, alternatively, will tend to use irrevocable trusts. The grantors of these trusts are often willing to sacrifice the control they could have retained over the assets with a revocable trust in favor of a reduced tax burden should the estate be subject to an estate tax.

Elder Law Attorneys

Is a pour over will right for your estate? The knowledgeable team at Merlino & Gonzalez can go over your options with you so that you can put the strongest estate plan possible in place. Contact us today.