What is a Pour-Over Will and Why You Might Need One?

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2020 | estate planning


A pour-over will is one of the estate planning options you may use as you plan for the future. If you use a pour-over will, it will allow for all of your property that has passed through the will to be transferred into your trust. This property is then distributed to your trust beneficiaries. This type of will is often used with living trusts.

If you have questions about whether a pour-over will is right for your estate, a California estate planning attorney with experience in this area can help. The California estate planning attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver have successfully been handling all different types of estate planning matters for many years. Give our office a call today to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys to receive more information about pour-over wills and other aspects of estate planning.

The Benefits of Using a Pour-Over Will

Choosing to incorporate a pour-over will into your estate plans can have many benefits. One of these benefits is that with this type of will, your assets are controlled by just one document. Your pour-over will must include specific language that explains your intent.

Using this method, it is very clear to your beneficiaries and others involved who is entitled to each asset or property in your estate. In addition to making things easier for your beneficiaries, it also makes things easier for the trustee and the executor to fulfill their duties in finalizing your estate after your death.

Another major benefit of using a pour-over will in your estate plans is the benefit of privacy for you and your beneficiaries. Wills are documents that become public records after your death–meaning pretty much anyone can read them and learn how your assets were distributed and to whom. 

Trusts, on the other hand, are private, so when your assets “pour-over” into your trust upon your death, the distributions will remain private. Depending on how you wish to distribute your estate, this level of privacy may help protect your beneficiaries and may help them avoid fights and feuds over who gets what from your estate.

The Disadvantages of Using a Pour-Over Will

Of course, there are some instances where it may not make sense for you to use a pour-over will in your estate planning. There are some disadvantages to using this method that you should consider before making your decision.

One disadvantage of choosing to use a pour-over will is that the will may then be required to pass through probate. Probate can be an expensive and lengthy process, so in many cases, assets and property are held up in probate for months or longer, rather than being resolved and distributed sooner. 

One way to make this process go more smoothly is to include the least amount of assets and property in the pour-over will as possible, which may help cut down on the time the will is passing through probate. Additionally, in California, there are limits regarding the assets that can be transferred to a trust through a pour-over will without requiring the estate to go through probate.

How Can I Make Sure My Pour-Over Will Is Valid?

Previously, California law had a requirement that a pour-over will is only valid if you created the trust (that the assets are to “pour into”) either prior to or at the same time as you create your pour-over will. This rule was changed in recent years to make things easier for people planning their estates.

Now, you can create the trust up to sixty days after you have signed your pour-over will. This change in the law eliminated some confusion, as some people doing their estate planning did not realize that they had to also create the trust at the same time if they had not previously created the trust.

You can make sure that your pour-over will is valid by ensuring that your trust is created within the sixty-day period after you signed your will if it has not been completed already. You should also know that the trust cannot be terminated or revoked before your death should you wish for the pour over provision in the will to comply. 

If you attempt to revoke or terminate your trust during your lifetime, then your will’s pour-over provision will not be considered effective. This can lead to a result where any assets that you did not otherwise name will pass on to your heirs according to California rules of intestate succession.

The best way to make sure that your estate plans are prepared properly according to your needs is to hire an estate planning attorney. Contact us today at Galanti and Copenhaver, Inc. to get started with your estate plans.