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If your estate plan includes a living trust, then a "pour-over" will may help protect your assets by allowing them to become part of that already-existing trust at the time of your death. US Legal Forms has the forms specific to your state which will help you meet your estate planning needs.
A pour-over will form is an essential estate planning document when you’ve created a living trust. A trust needs to have assets placed into the trust in order to be distributed according to the terms of the trust by your trustee. The assets are transferred and retitled to the trust in a process called funding the trust. However, people often die leaving assets that haven’t been transferred to the trust for one reason or another. This may be due to having forgotten to convey the assets to the trust, or having assets that were acquired after creating the trust and not getting around to adding them to the trust. Sometimes there’s a defect in the paperwork that invalidates the asset’s transfer to the trust.
It’s very common, if not expected, that a person will die owning newly acquired or overlooked assets that should have been placed in a trust. A pour-over will acts as a safety net that catches these extra assets and “pours” them into the trust. It serves to tie up your legal loose ends, and ensure that your final wishes are carried out properly.
There are various estate planning benefits to having a pour over will. Some of the important advantages of this vital legal document include:
Peace of mind - If you’ve created a living trust, a pour-over will gives you peace of mind because you don’t need to worry about the ability to carry out your final wishes. It avoids having assets inadvertently left out of the trust. A pour over will can ensure that your assets will be distributed as you intended, rather than being distributed to unintended beneficiaries. The assets that belong in your trust will be there to be distributed under the trust instructions, while still allowing you to give specific property outright to heirs named in your will.
Efficiency – A pour-over will can drastically simplify the probate process and save significant delay and expense.
The pour-over will avoids having to ask the court make a decision about how to distribute assets. It prevents doubts about how to handle assets not addressed in the will or already titled to the trust by directing assets into the trust.
It avoids having to rewrite your will or worrying about immediately transferring every new purchase into the trust. You can rest assured that the property will become part of the trust when you die.
Care of minors - If you have minor children, your pour-over will can be used to nominate a guardian for them. Otherwise, it will be mainly up to the court to decide who is to care for the children you leave behind.
Tax savings - Having assets not already titled to the trust able to be conveyed into the trust, rather than becoming part of the probate estate, may reduce tax liability.
Privacy – A living trust isn’t required to be filed in court in the same way a will is. Therefore, the terms of the trust aren’t a matter of public record. When assets are distributed under the terms of a trust, the terms describing who gets what are kept private.
Proper distribution of assets - By having a pour-over will, any assets not specifically bequeathed to a named heir in the will or owned by the trust will be “poured over” into the trust. These assets will then be distributed by the trustee according to the terms of the trust, rather than remaining part of the probate estate and being distributed according to the probate laws. Having a pour-over will protects these assets from staying in the probate estate and being subject to probate rules.
If you die without a will after creating a living trust, any assets not put in the trust will become part of your intestate estate and be distributed according to the state probate laws of intestacy to a spouse and relatives. This can cause assets to wind up in the hands of unintended beneficiaries.
Spendthrift protection- By having assets handled by a trustee, they aren’t required to be distributed immediately. In some instances, you may want to attach conditions to the gift. For example, you may have children that are too young or financially irresponsible to handle a large sum of money. The trust can stay in existence after you die, and the trustee can distribute the property over time in increments, or when the beneficiary reaches a certain age.
If you have a living trust, a pour-over will is a key companion form that you need to have as part of your estate planning. It’s the best way to not only make handling your affairs easier, but also ensure that your final wishes are carried out as desired.