Advanced Estate Planning

What Is a Pour-Over Will?

A “pour-over will” is a special kind of last will and testament.  It works in conjunction with a revocable trust, and it is worth considering in your estate plan.  This blog will get you familiar with all the basics of a pour-over will.

Why Not Just a Regular Last Will and Testament?

You have worked hard your whole life.  You have a family that means the world to you.  You want to make sure that your family is protected and that all of the assets you have accumulated over your life will be distributed in the way you wish.

Is drafting a last will and testament the best way to make sure that your assets are distributed in the manner you wish?  Likely, no.

That may seem surprising to many because a last will and testament is what we traditionally know to be the way in which we distribute assets after our death.  It is a way in which we get to dictate how our estate is handled upon our passing.  However, many forget that a last will and testament must go through probate.

That process – the probate court process – can be time-consuming, lengthy, and costly to your family.  At the end of the day, a good part of your estate is taken up by probate costs – that is certainly not how we envisioned the administration of our assets when drafting the last will and testament, right?

If you really want to take control over your estate, and save your family the time, money, and aggravation of the probate process, then you need to think about a revocable trust as a way to properly plan your estate.  In conjunction with that revocable trust, you would be wise to create a pour-over will.

In that vein, should you want immediate assistance with the legal options available to you, consider giving us a call at Doane & Doane, the premier estate planning attorneys in Palm Beach, FL. Our estate planning expert attorneys would be happy to provide a free consultation regarding the best way to plan your estate.  Call us today at 561-656-0200.

Now, let’s look at those estate planning tools – the revocable trust and the pour-over will – more closely.

The Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust

A properly prepared estate plan should include a revocable living trust. Once you have set up the trust with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, you essentially transfer your assets to the trust during your lifetime.  If you fund all of your assets into the trust, then you can completely avoid all of the hassles and frustrations of probate for your family.

You do that by directing how your trust should be administered when you die. Therefore, when you pass away, there is no probate that your family has to go through.  All the time, cost, and emotional toll is eliminated.  And it is all because you have done a proper estate plan.

However, what happens if you forget to fund your revocable living trust with an asset?

Pour-Over Will

As noted, a pour-over will is a special kind of last will and testament.  It is used in connection with a revocable living trust and can save the day when you forget to transfer all of your property into the trust during your lifetime.

In our experience at Doane & Doane, the top-rated estate planning attorneys in Palm Beach, every now and then clients will forget that they have that shoebox full of series EE bonds, that CD that they setup 10 years ago, or that timeshare.  Moreover, they forget to tell their estate planner about those assets, and they do not get transferred into the trust.

That is where the pour-over will comes in. The pour-over will is that catch-all for any assets that you may forget to put into your revocable trust during your lifetime. Accordingly, any asset of yours that did not get transferred into a trust during your lifetime gets “poured” into the trust when you pass.  It is best to think of the pour-over will as a kind of “safety net” for any assets that you may have wanted in your revocable trust but forgot to put there.

Caution – Pour-Over Wills Require Probate

The biggest benefit of a revocable trust is that it avoids probate for the assets in the trust.  Unfortunately, any assets that are not funded into your trust before you pass will require probate, even if it is directed through a pour-over will.

What Happens If You Do Not Have a Pour-Over Will?

In the absence of a pour-over will, any assets that are not in your trust must pass to your heirs in accordance with state law as if you did not have a last will and testament for those assets.  Those laws are called the laws of “intestate succession.”

Intestate succession laws vary from state to state, but they generally try to estimate as closely as possible which of your heirs would be appropriate for inheritance of the asset.  That includes your spouse, your children, your siblings, and your parents.

Remember, if you forget to fund your summer home into your trust and you don’t have a pour-over will, then the home might go to the child who was estranged from the family years ago.  So, estate planning can avoid that kind of circumstance.

Estate Planning Attorneys in Palm Beach Help You Plan for the Future of Your Family

The expert attorneys at Doane & Doane assist individuals, families, and businesses with their specific estate planning needs. We know that individual estate planning specifically is about much more than giving away property. Your estate plan with your family in mind is about the emotional process of providing for the future financial security of your loved ones.

Our lawyers will help you determine which estate planning tools are best suited to your specific circumstances.  At Doane & Doane, P.A. we care deeply about the people you care deeply about.  Let us help you plan for your family’s security.  Contact a Doane & Doane professional today by calling 561-656-0200.