What is a Pour-over Will?

A pour-over will is used with estates that hold the bulk of their property in trust, and it has three important functions. While creating a trust will transfer property to beneficiaries and allow it to avoid probate, you will still need a will for the following:

1. Naming the Executor of your estate.

A pour-over will names an Executor and should also name at least one backup Executor, should the primary choice be unwilling or unable to serve. If you have a properly drafted and funded trust, your Executor is not going to be tasked as much as the Executor of an estate using primarily a will to transfer property, since property within a Trust avoids probate. But an Executor will still have duties, such as filing a tax return for the estate, paying debts and expenses and other administrative tasks.

2. Naming the Guardian for minor children.

Naming a Guardian for your children is one of the primary reasons parents create a will, and this task cannot be handled by creating a trust. As with the Executor, you should also name at least one backup should your original choice not be able to take on the responsibility.

3. Handling the property not currently owned by the trust.

A pour-over will normally directs an Executor to transfer all property into the Trust that is not held within the trust. This will allow the Trust to act as the main document to distribute your property.

Usually, the main assets and property of an estate are held by the Trust, while a pour-over will would cover any smaller property that was not transferred when the Trust was created. If the property covered by the pour-over will is low enough in value, that property may still avoid a lengthy probate proceeding.

If you are considering creating a trust or drafting a will, work with an estate planning attorney to not only ensure that these documents coordinate with each other, but that they meet your family’s specific needs.