What Is a Pour-Over Will?

Pour-over wills are frequently paired with revocable living trusts. This is because all the property that is named in a pour-over will gets funneled into a trust upon the will-maker's death. Then the property held in trust would go to the beneficiaries of the trust. So if all the property is going to end up in a trust anyway, is there a point to creating a pour-over will? It depends on your situation, but there are often several benefits that come with these types of wills. These include:

  • A streamlined process. An executor and a trustee do not have multiple documents to follow and abide by. Everything is guided by the clear terms laid out in the trust.
  • Comprehensiveness. You simply can't put all your property into a living trust while you're alive, so a pour-over will can ensure that any property not held in trust can still follow the wishes you wrote out for the trust.
  • Privacy. Most wills are public record when someone passes away; trusts are not. This type of will, however, means that you can guard your last will and testament from prying eyes by pouring it over into a trust.

That being said, there are, of course, drawbacks to including this type of document in your estate plan. There is the possibility that assets in a pour-over will have to go through probate. This would also delay the distribution of trust assets. Normally speaking, upon the trust-maker's death, beneficiaries could collect their property within the month. If the trust has to wait on a probate court, however, the whole process could get pushed back by several months. If you plan it right, however, you can put most of your assets into your trust, and in that way you won't have much property under the will. This could mean that your property may be able to go through an expedited version of probate.

What does a pour-over will mean for an executor and successor trustee?

Then there are the legal implications for executors and trustees to consider. If you make a typical will, the executor will need to collect your assets, take care of outstanding debts as well as taxes, and distribute property to inheritors. With the pour-over will though, all the executor needs to perform is the transfer of will assets into your living trust. As for the person you choose as your successor trustee, their duties remain unchanged, including the fact that they are unhindered by a probate court when it comes to making choices for the assets left in trust. They still have the job to oversee your assets and follow the terms of your trust.

If you have further questions about what you should include in your estate plan, how you can avoid probate, or how to draft the terms of a trust, don't wait to contact a legal expert. Be sure to talk to a probate attorney today!