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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, March 16, 2020

How a Pour Over Will Works

A detailed estate plan can provide asset protection now and in the future. It can also protect your family and ensure that the legacy you build is available for the next generation and generations to come. California wills and trusts attorneys assist individuals in preparing comprehensive estate plans that meet a variety of goals, including protecting assets, reducing tax liability, and avoiding probate. Trusts are one of the tools used to accomplish those goals. However, even with a trust agreement, you still need a pour over will to protect your heirs.

What is a Pour Over Will?

Pour over wills are used together with trusts to ensure that your property is transferred to your heirs as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. A trust-based estate utilizes one or more trust agreements to distribute assets to beneficiaries after your death. Depending on your needs and goals, you might utilize one irrevocable trust to hold all your assets or you might utilize several different trusts to gain maximum advantage of a trust-based estate plan.

However, there are certain assets that you might not be able to transfer to a trust. There could be assets that you overlook or that you acquire after your estate plan is in place. Without a will, those assets would go through probate. California's intestate laws would apply to those assets. In other words, the state would determine who would inherit the assets that are not held by a trust upon your death.

A pour over will takes care of that issue. With a pour over will, you can designate a trust as the heir of any property that might go through a probate estate. The property would be “inherited” by the trust. The trust would then dictate what happens to the property. For example, if you have an antique car that you purchased right before your death and did not have time to transfer the title to the trust, the vehicle will go through probate, but ultimately end up in your trust.

As with any will, a pour over will allows you to nominate someone to administer your estate. That person could be the same person you nominate as your successor trustee so that one person handles matters related to your finances and property after your death.

Pour Over Wills Are Safety Nets for Your Estate

Even with a trust-based estate plan, there will likely be some property that is not held by a trust. Your pour over will is a safety net. It prevents any property you own from being transferred to someone other than the person you intend to inherit your assets. It ensures that a long-lost relative or estranged family member does not appear to lay claim to part of your estate because they are an intestate heir.

Contact Our California Estate-Planning Attorneys to Discuss Your Estate Plan

If you have an estate plan, it may be a good time to review your plan with experienced California estate-planning attorneys. It is wise to review your estate plan after any major life event, changes in the tax code, or acquisition of a major asset. Schedule a consult with our California estate planning attorneys to learn more. Our lawyers can help you prepare or revise your estate plan to ensure your wishes are honored after your death.


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