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What is a Pour Over Will?

Estate Planners | Monday, June 20th, 2011

One type of testamentary instrument that is widely used in combination with a trust that was created during a person’s lifetime is a pour over will. A pour over will typically dictates that, when the testator passes away, all assets and property that they own that have not previously been transferred into the trust during the person’s lifetime automatically pour over into the trust. Thus, the name, pour over trust. Once transferred to the trust, the assets are then allocated per the instructions that govern the trust. Basically, the pour over will can ensure that any assets or property, even items that were intentionally or accidentally left out, are placed into the trust before the trust is executed to the beneficiaries.

Pour Over Will Benefits

The pour over will is useful in certain circumstances, particularly when a testator does not wish for all of his or her assets or property to be transferred to the trust while the testator is still living. Many people find this preferable for a number of reasons, with the most obvious reason for choosing a pour over will being convenience. For instance, the car that a testator is driving would be difficult to buy, sell, or insure if the car is actually an asset of a trust. The testator may wish to get rid of the car years before they pass away; should they still have the car upon their death, the pour over will makes certain that ownership of the car is transferred to the trust at that time.

Tax savings are also another consideration when deciding upon a pour over will. In some instances, it is desirable for the testator to avoid transferring assets into the trust during their lifetime, as the transfer can trigger a reassessment of property tax. The pour over will also becomes useful when assets are acquired right before the testator passes away because all property and assets are transferred over to the trust at the time of death. Thus, there is no need to rewrite the pour over will to include assets that were acquired after the original will is written because ownership of all assets and property, even those not mentioned in the will, become property of the trust upon death of the testator.

The pour over will can be useful in making certain that all prior wills that may have been created by the testator are revoked. In this way, the pour over will ensures that no conflict exists between the distributions of assets as stated in a previous will. Further, some people use the pour over will as a method of establishing who they wish to become the guardian for any minor children that they are leaving behind while the trust itself will outline specifically how the testator’s assets should be allocated to care for the minor children.

And lastly, the pour over will makes the probate process run a bit more smoothly, as there is no question about asset and property distribution – everything goes into the trust.

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