When Should I Have a Pour-Over Will?

Pour-over will
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A pour-over will can help tie up loose ends.

Revocable Living Trust-based plans work as intended when the trust is funded.

Some assets are placed in the trust while the trustmaker of the trust is alive.

Other assets are intentionally left out or simply forgotten – more commonly, the latter.

According to a recent Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press article titled “How does a Pour-Over Will work?,” trusts do not require involvement from the probate judge.

A pour-over will directs assets into a trust.
A pour-over will is like a safety net for assets unintentionally left out of the trust.

Assets held outside the trust are subject to probate, joint ownership (think “joint tenants with rights of survivorship” or “tenancy by the entirety,” for Missouri married couples), or beneficiary designations.

A last will and testament is necessary if you want to control the disposition of assets subject to probate.

A last will is also used to designate an executor to administer your estate according to your wishes.

With no last will, any “probate” assets are subject to the intestate succession laws of your state of residence.

Those who use revocable living trusts in their estate plans typically desire to bypass probate.

Although estate planning attorneys often provide instructions for funding the trust and retitling assets to be owned by the trust, many people forget to do this with newly acquired assets years later.

If you do this and only have a trust with no pour-over last will, then your other assets will be treated as if you died intestate.

In short, they will never make it into the trust to pass as intended.


What is the solution?

A pour-over last will can prevent this situation.

What is a pour-over last will?

It is a last will, but with an important twist.

Like a traditional last will, it has to be submitted to the probate court.

Unlike a traditional last will, the pour-over last will specifically directs that any assets subject to probate shall “pour-over” into the trust post-probate.

Although probate courts will be involved, the probate proceedings are typically less formal and complex.

With a pour-over last will, an executor can still be named, as well as guardians for minor children.

As a result, it is an essential legal tool for parents of young children who want a trust-based estate plan.

Ideally, your revocable living trust would ensure you completely bypass probate.

Because the ideal is not always reality, having a pour-over last will as a safety net is essential.

ReferenceCoeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press (Sep. 10, 2023) “How does a Pour-Over Will work?”

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