“What is a Pour-Over Will and Why Should I Have One?” by Attorney Victor A. Lembo (Audio)
When you sit down with an attorney to discuss your estate, it is likely different options were presented, including wills and trusts. As revocable trusts are a popular vehicle to avoid probate, minimize taxes, and control assets for your family, an important document to be drafted with it is referred to as the Pour-Over Will. Sinclair Prosser Gasior can ensure it is drafted in the proper way to work with your estate plan.
You may be thinking…why do I need a Will if I opted for a trust? A Pour-Over Will should always be drafted with a revocable trust. Its purpose is to ensure that any assets not titled in the trust or passing through other means, such as joint ownership or beneficiary designation, will become part of the trust when the individual dies. (And most estates will have some sort of probate for various reasons.) Therefore, it will operate as a safeguard to “scoop up” and “pour over” into the trust.
The language of the document must be drafted in a manner such that it works in tandem with the trust. If proper reference is made through the verbiage, then the effect is that the personal representative delivers the assets that fall under the Will to the trustee of the corresponding named trust. Yes, the assets will still need to go through probate and an estate is opened through the courts. However, the decedent’s intentions for ultimate distribution would likely be met as the assets are distributed according to the trust terms.
If someone does not have a will, then state intestacy laws will dictate what happens for probate assets. An unintended result could be family members receiving valuable assets that the decedent did not want to be benefit from their estate.
Another advantage with having a trust with a pour over will comes into play when two spouses may die within a short time, and the surviving spouse has not had the opportunity to administer the estate. Instead of assets required to pass from one estate to the other, the assets pass directly to the trust, which is the legatee under the will. The trust will then distribute according to its terms. Imagine if you had to do twice as much work, but it could’ve been avoided! (And it happens more often than one would think.) This helps shorten administration and reduce costs. Also, the pour over will usually contains less information than a standard will, and thus, helps preserve privacy.
The pour over will is a valuable tool of your estate plan. Sinclair Prosser Gasior can properly draft the document to correlate with estate administration in order to provide simplicity and privacy. While there may be probate affiliated with the assets, having everything pour into the trust allows the trustee to efficiently handle the affairs of your estate and manage the assets according to your wishes.
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