Many clients hear our attorneys mention the term “pour-over will” and assume we are talking about a standard last will and testament. In other words, they think they are one and the same. The reality is that these are separate documents with unique roles in your estate planning strategy, and they can go a long way in letting your wishes be known about various important matters.
Since protecting our client’s assets and legacy is one of Christman Daniell Attorneys’ top priorities, we feel it is our duty to shed light on the purpose behind these and other related terms and documents to help you make the best decisions possible to meet your needs.
What’s the difference between a will and a pour-over will?
As we’ve written in many previous blog posts, a will is a legal document that acts as a specific list of instructions for your loved ones. It is typically seen as the first step in an estate planning strategy because it gives you control over how things play out moving forward.
You can include as many details as possible in your will and spell out your wishes on any of the following matters:
- How your assets should be distributed
- Who gets what, and how much
- Details for final arrangements
- Who should care for your minor children and pets
- Who is in charge (executor) of making sure all of this happens
A pour-over will is a type of will and shares the same goal of ensuring every asset in your estate is protected after you pass away. But unlike a traditional will, it is used in conjunction with a trust. A trust can be created and managed during your lifetime and accounts for disability and incapacitation — not just death. Now, a critical final step in creating a trust is to fund it — in other words, transfer ownership of your assets from you to the trust. Until you do, your newly-minted trust doesn’t control anything.
If everything you own is transferred to the trust, then a pour-over will may not be necessary. But most knowledgeable estate planning attorneys suggest setting one up at the same time as the trust to safeguard against the possibility that you forget to (or are unable to or chose not to) move certain leftover assets into your trust while you’re still alive.
Think of a pour-over will as a safety net left behind to catch anything that didn’t get moved into the trust.
Does a pour-over will avoid probate like a trust?
You cannot have a pour-over will unless you’ve established and funded your trust first. The trust itself is not subject to probate, but a pour-over will is subject to the same probate rules as a standard will. This is because the assets in the pour-over will are not yet owned under the umbrella of the trust. The good news is that once verified, the assets are moved to the trust and assume all the same privacy rights as everything else managed by the trust. From there, assets can be distributed according to your wishes.
We hope this article helped shed light on the benefits of a pour-over will. Depending upon your needs and circumstances, proper estate planning could involve much more than writing a traditional will. We are here to help you assemble an estate plan that goes beyond the last will and testament with a revocable trust, living will, health care directives, powers of attorney, and other documents.
Our attorneys will help you to create legal instruments to distribute your assets according to your wishes, nominate a guardian for minor children, minimize family disputes, avoid probate and estate administration, and plan for incapacity.
Start planning for the future today and protect your family’s assets with the help of our trusted estate planning attorneys. Our team is dedicated to creating peace of mind for our clients and their loved ones.
Please call Christman Daniell Attorneys, for your legal needs today!
Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation. The material on this website and in this or any blog article we publish are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The attorneys at Christman Daniell Attorneys, believe in tailoring legal advice and solutions to your own personal circumstances.
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