Creating a living trust is among the most popular means by which California residents avoid drawn-out probate proceedings. Whenever an asset is transferred into a trust’s control, that asset is shielded from probate. However, any assets that are not handed over to the trust before the founder’s death may still have to be appraised and approved by a court before they can be disbursed to beneficiaries. Some people use pour-over wills to ensure any valuable assets they forget to put into the trust stay safe.
The Difference Between Regular Wills and Pour-Over Wills
Many different people can benefit or otherwise be affected by the wishes detailed in a traditional will. Ordinary wills can provide many benefits and allow you to:
- Name a guardian for your children
- Designate a trusted individual to make medical decision for you if you are ever incapacitated
- State who gets an inheritance
A pour-over will, on the other hand, has only one intended beneficiary: your living trust.
Of course, whenever you write a pour-over will, you still have the option to grant gifts to individual loved ones. However, the pour-over will contains precise legal language meant to benefit your trust.
When you create a pour-over will, you are letting the state know that you want any non-trust assets to be transferred into your living trust after you have passed away. You are, in effect, permitting your non-trust assets to pour over into the trust.
Pour-Over Wills and Probate
A pour-over will can help the family and beneficiaries of the testator’s will avoid probate on non-trust assets by transferring them into the trust’s care after the testator dies. If the value of the pour-over assets does not exceed California’s statutory limits for trust funds, the assets will not move into probate.
Deciding If a Pour-Over Will Is Right for You
If you want to establish a living trust, a pour-over will can help protect assets you do not transfer into the trust’s name before you pass away. California recently made it easier to create pour-over wills. Even if you do not already have a trust, you may be able to write a pour-over will before establishing one.
However, pour-over wills are subject to some restrictions and may be invalidated under certain circumstances. You should speak to an experienced estate planning attorney to decide whether a pour-over will is the best fit for your legacy.
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