Like many people, you may have decided to include a revocable living trust in your overall estate plan. If so, you may also have heard that you will also need to create and execute a “pour over” Will. A pour over Will is specific type of Last Will and Testament that is commonly used when a revocable living trust is used to distribute estate assets after the death of a decedent. Only an experienced estate planning attorney can provide you with specific advice about your estate plan; however, understanding what a pour over Will is and how one is used is a good place to start.
The primary purpose of a Last Will and Testament is usually to indicate how a decedent’s assets are to be distributed among beneficiaries after death. A Will can include specific bequests or general gifts. A pour over Will, however, does neither. Instead, a pour over Will directs all estate assets into a revocable living trust established by the decedent prior to death. Why not simply depend on your Will to distribute your assets? There are several reasons why people choose to use a revocable living trust/pour over Will combination:
A trust allows you to retain a certain degree of control over the assets long after death through the trust terms.
A trust also allows you to appoint a trustee to oversee the management of those assets.
A trust may be necessary if you have minor children who cannot inherit directly.
Without the pour over Will, assets may be left out of the trust. The Will ensures that all assets are funneled into the trust.
A Will is public whereas a trust is private. If you don’t want the world to know what gifts you left and to whom, funneling assets through a pour over Will into a revocable living trust is the perfect solution.
One major disadvantage to using a pour over Will is that assets that pass through the Will are included in the probate process. This can hold up the distribution of those assets if probate drags out, something that occurs often. The solution to this dilemma is proper estate planning. Typically, this will include transferring your most valuable and/or important assets into the trust prior to your death, leaving only personal items or forgotten assets to be transferred after death.
Talk to your Missouri estate planning attorney is you have additional questions about a pour over Will or a revocable living trust.