What Is A Pour Over Will?

July 13, 2012

You may have heard the term “pour over” Will as it relates to estate planning and wondered what exactly a “pour over” Will is and how it differs from a regular Last Will and Testament. In essence, a pour over Will operates the same as any other Will, except that it has one primary purpose or goal -- to transfer estate assets into a trust upon the death of the testator, or maker of the Will.
People create living trusts for a variety of reasons. Tax advantages, probate avoidance, and control over assets are common incentives for the creation of a living trust. When you create a living trust, you fund the trust by titling the estate assets in the name of the trust. Sometimes, estate assets remain in the estate at the time of death that you wish to become part of the living trust. A pour over Will accomplishes this goal by including terms that direct estate assets to be transferred to the trust when you die.
There is one main reason why a pour over Will may be a good idea. In some cases, there is a legitimate reason why an asset cannot be placed immediately into the trust. Real property, for example, may need to be titled in your name for financing purposes. If you fail to later transfer it into the name of the trust, a pour-over will will do so after death.  A pour over Will, then, provides a safety net of sorts for anything that you forgot to transfer into the trust while alive. By including a pour over Will in your estate plan, you can be assured that assets that were inadvertently left out of the trust prior to your death will end up in the trust after your death. Keep in mind, however, that a pour-over Will is a safety net. It is a Will, so a probate of the assets will be required.  To avoid probate, you want to be vigilant in keeping your assets properly titled in the trust, if possible.

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