When Would I Use a Pour-Over Will or Trust?

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A trust can help you avoid probate, but you still need a “pour-over” will.

Trusts are not only for the wealthy seeking to minimize estate taxes.

They are useful for bypassing probate, too.

Sometimes probate can take a long time and cost a lot of money.

It may be worth the extra time and money to create a trust now to avoid probate later.

According to a recent Times Herald-Record article titled “Pour-over will a safety net for a living trust,” you should have a will with your living-trust.

Pour-over wills work together with trust to protect assets.
A pour-over will funnels assets to your trust when you die.


I thought the benefit of a trust was bypassing probate.

It is, but only when all assets are properly titled or otherwise arranged to avoid probate.

For example, assets titled in your trust or that have your trust (or living beneficiary) as the designated beneficiary will avoid probate.

What if you forget to meticulously maintain the proper “alignment” of your asset titles and beneficiary designation on all of your assets?

Enter the pour-over will.


In the absence of a pour-over will, which actually designates your trust as its beneficiary, assets not owned by the trust pass according to the intestacy laws for your state of residence.


In short, even though probate is not avoided on such assets, a pour-over will serves as a “safety net” of sorts.

The pour-over will also serves to revoke past wills and codicils that may be in conflict with the provisions of your trust.

By utilizing a pour-over will, even your “orphaned” assets (i.e., those subject to probate for one reason or another) will be managed and distributed by your trust after you die.

Note: trust planning is advanced estate planning.

Be sure to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that you tie up any lose ends.

Reference: Times Herald-Record (Sep. 13, 2019) “Pour-over will a safety net for a living trust.”

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