attorney discussing a pour over will

What Is a Pour Over Will?

By David Hammond

Estate planning is so much more than a last will and testament, although most people associate the two. Estate planning has a number of valuable legal tools you can put in place to help you accomplish unique, specific goals that meet your own objectives. For instance, have you ever heard of a pour over will? We are here to talk more about this and how it may be fitting for your own estate planning purposes.

What is a Pour Over Will?

Many people, for the potential benefits it offers, choose to create a living trust as part of their estate plan. This may be, in part, to help avoid probate, which is notoriously time consuming and often can be expensive. If you have considered creating a revocable living trust, then you may have heard of a pour over will. The two are often used in connection with each other.

A pour over will is a legal tool used in conjunction with a trust. Pursuant to the terms of a pour over will, property that would otherwise pass through your will upon your death is instead transferred to, or “poured into,” your trust instead. The property transferred to the trust is then distributed to trust beneficiaries named in the trust document when you were alive.

Why would someone have a pour over will? Doesn’t a pour over will just transfer property into your trust? Well, for starters, it can simplify things a great deal. When your remaining property is transferred into the trust, all of it is governed under one, single trust document. Do not underestimate the value of simplicity. It makes it clear as to which beneficiaries get what. It also makes the job of the personal representative of the estate as well as the trustee much easier.

The pour over will also ensures that things you may have meant to transfer into the living trust but did not get around to doing before your death end up being transferred. It is a great way to ensure completeness of transferring things into the trust. A decedent may also have deferred putting certain property into the trust to avoid things like property taxes or merely to avoid certain inconveniences associated with such a transfer. A pour over will accomplishes things that were otherwise delayed. In other words, it can be a great way of wrapping up your plans for your trust, even when you are not around to do so for yourself.

A pour over will also help protect your privacy. Trusts are private. Wills are not. Wills become public records and trusts. This means that, using a pour over will, you are protecting your privacy. You are keeping details such as who inherits what private.

Estate Planning Attorneys

There are so many more estate planning tools that remain a mystery to most, but can actually play an instrumental role at effectively establishing a comprehensive estate plan. A pour over will is just one such tool. To find out more about your estate planning options, talk to the dedicated estate planning attorneys at CDH Law. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.