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How do pour-over wills work?

On Behalf of | Nov 23, 2020 | Estate Planning

When you created your revocable living trust, you likely transferred most of your assets to its ownership. Yet, you may have left certain assets out of your trust, whether by accident or on purpose. You will want to make sure, though, that these assets pass on to the people you want to have them once you die. For this to happen, you may need to draft a pour-over will.

What pour-over wills accomplish

A pour-over will is a document that, upon your death, transfers any assets you left out of your trust to its ownership. Without a pour-over will, these assets would become subject to California’s intestate succession laws. By creating one, you will make sure your property avoids this fate and goes to the beneficiaries of your trust.

Because pour-over wills exist as precautionary documents, you will not want to use it as a substitute for funding your trust. This is because pour-over wills must go through probate before your assets can enter your trust’s ownership and be distributed.

The value of your assets left out of your trust could be $166,250 or less. In this case, by California law, your pour-over will could avoid probate, unless special circumstances require it.

Creating a pour-over will

Before creating a pour-over will, you will want to revisit your revocable living trust. Updating your trust periodically will help you make sure most of your assets transfer to its ownership without going through probate first. Yet, it is not realistic that you will place every asset you own in your trust. By drafting a pour-over will, though, you will make sure this transfer happens, leaving nothing to chance.

While creating a pour-over will is relatively simple, you will want to make sure its terms are sound. An estate planning attorney can help you ensure it is workable, binding and valid.