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How Does a Pour-Over Will Work?

For those who want to avoid the court-controlled process that takes place after a person’s death (known as “probate”)—using a Revocable Living Trust is typically the best way to do so.
Pour-Over Will
attorney Christina Brengel, estate planning attorney

By: Christina Brengel

Christina Stroyick Brengel is an attorney with a strong dedication and passion for serving her clients.

A Revocable Living Trust allows a married couple or a single person to direct what they wish to happen to their possessions after death. It also indicates who will be in charge of carrying out their instructions without the involvement of a probate court, explains a recent article from Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press, “If you have a living trust, you also need a pour-over will.”

It should be noted that the Revocable Living Trust instructions only apply to assets placed into the Trust, referred to as “funding the trust.” This crucial step must occur as soon as the trust is created. Your estate planning attorney can help you get your assets into the trust. However, if you acquire any new assets over time, they, too, must be placed into the trust.

If you don’t remember to put them into the trust, they become part of your probate estate unless you take steps to prevent this from happening.

If you don’t have a will and assets are not included in your Revocable Living Trust, your assets will be distributed according to your state’s laws. This is probably not what you thought when you created the Revocable Living Trust.

However, this is a problem with a solution. Your estate planning attorney needs to create what is referred to as a “Pour-Over Will.” This type of will differs from a traditional one because it includes specific instructions to place any assets not already in your trust into your trust as soon as possible.

This type of will must go through the probate process. However, probate will only apply to assets left out of the trust. Having most of your assets inside the Revocable Living Trust will help probate to be less arduous for all concerned.

The goal of using a Revocable Living Trust is to avoid probate altogether. Therefore, combining the Revocable Living Trust with a Pour-Over Will adds another layer of protection all trust users should have in place.

If you are a parent with minor children, you should have had a will created by an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as your children were born. You will also need to have a document to name the person or people who you want to serve as guardians for your minor child or children if both of the child’s parents are deceased or unavailable to act as parents.

Without such a document, a court will determine who will raise your child. Will it be the person you would have chosen? There’s no way to know unless you put this information into your will.

These details in estate planning go a long way in protecting your family and ensuring that your wishes are carried out.

If you would like additional information, please contact the Law Office of Christina Stroyick Brengel today.

Reference: Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press (Nov. 29, 2023) “If you have a living trust, you also need a pour-over will”

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