Even if you have a trust, it's a good idea to have a will to back it up. Estate planning is all about having a plan not just to direct what happens to you and your estate, but to account for what happens if things don't go as expected or were left unaddressed. One such critical step is funding the trust you created. A pour-over will is the back up to the trust which ensures the trust is fully funded. Updating your will or creating a new one after forming a trust is one way to ensure your loved ones can inherit property, even if it wasn't titled to your trust during your life.
What Is a Pour-Over Will?
A pour-over will is a powerful estate planning tool. It is the type of will that can ensure that any assets not formally titled to your trust during your life (as they should have been) would still be distributed pursuant to the terms of your trust, and in some cases could completely bypass formal probate administration in court.
A pour-over will cures the “failure to fund.” When you set up a trust, you would need to ensure that any of your existing and any new property you acquire throughout your life is properly titled in the name of the trust. This process is known as “funding your trust.” Unfortunately, sometimes life can get complicated, and so can anyone's estate, and some assets don't “make it” in your trust during your life. Such assets would be subject, in some cases, to formal probate in court. The same problem can occur if someone dies before they are able to title all of their property in the name of the trust.
Enters the Pour Over Will – whose job it is to sweep into the trust any such odds and ends after one dies.
How Does a Pour-Over Will Work?
A pour-over works by naming your trust as its sole beneficiary, and naming Executor(s) whose job it is to fund your trust after death. In doing so, any property belonging to your personal estate (i.e. property not formally titled in the name of your trust) is deemed owned by your trust, since the pour-over will named the trust as the sole beneficiary of your probate estate. Once conveyed into the trust, such property can then be administered and distributed pursuant to your wishes as expressed in the trust document.
We Can Help with Trusts & Pour-Over Wills
If you're looking for a better way to secure your estate plan, you should know that establishing a trust requires a pour-over will as its back-up. This important document should never be missing from your estate plan. In fact, a pour-over will is such a powerful document that our Office never drafts a revocable trust without also drafting a pour-over will. Together with a detailed General Grant and Assignment assigning all of your property to the trust, these documents (the Trust, Will and Assignment) work in tandem to ensure all of your property is distributed as you intended, and is subject to the “No Contest” provisions of your trust. To learn more or to update your trust and your pour-over will, contact the Law Offices of Maria N. Jonsson, P.C. for legal assistance with this process.