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.  

California Estate Planning Lawyer Kavesh, Minor & Otis

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.

Do You Need To Speak With An Attorney About Estate Planning?

If you need to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer please contact us online or call us directly at 800.756.5596 to first register for one of our free, informative seminars. Your attendance will qualify you for a special discount for our estate planning services should you decide to make a free appointment at the conclusion of the seminar and choose to proceed with us. We proudly serve clients throughout California with offices in Torrance, Newport Beach, Orange, Woodland Hills and Pasadena.


Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.