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How do pour-over wills work?

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2024 | Estate Planning

A will forms the basis of most people’s estate plans. It’s a relatively simple and inexpensive way of better ensuring that your assets go to the people you wish when you die. Wills have limits, however. One is that your assets will typically pass through probate, which can sometimes take a long time, especially if someone contests your will.

That is one of the reasons some prefer to use a revocable living trust as the basis of their estate plan instead. If you choose to do the same, the assets you put in the trust will avoid probate and reach the hands of those you choose sooner.

Yet, one limitation of both a will and a revocable living trust is that they may not account for all your assets. Your will can only account for those assets that you mention. When you gain new assets, you’ll need to update your will to include them. A revocable living trust can only account for the assets you put into it. So, each time you acquire a new asset, you must remember to give the trust ownership of it.

A pour-over will ensures nothing gets forgotten about

A pour-over will set to feed into a living trust can help to ensure that your estate plan accounts for all of your assets. When you die, the pour-over will takes any assets not mentioned elsewhere and transfers them into the care of the trust you’ve created.

The trustee (the person you put in charge of the trust) then manages your assets according to the rules you made when you created the trust. So, if you wrote that everything in the trust would be split equally between your children once the youngest turns 25, this is what will happen.

Using a pour-over will does not mean that you’ll never need to revise your estate plan again – it’s always a good idea to review it regularly. However, it can provide peace of mind that all your assets will be accounted for in the end.