ABOUT POUR-OVER WILLS
People in California who have estate plans centered on a trust may consider using a pour-over will in conjunction with their estate plan. This unique type of will can be useful if the grantor fails to transfer their assets in the trust over the course of their lifetime and there is no other will that specifies to whom those assets should be distributed.
A pour-over will does not regulate the distribution of all of an individual's assets. Instead, it states that the assets that have not been placed into the revocable living trust should be transferred to the trust when the grantor dies. The pour-over will essentially designates the trust as the beneficiary of any assets that are not already under its ownership and are not being directly transferred to a living beneficiary under some other mechanisms, like a beneficiary designation on a pension account or life insurance policy.
One important aspect of a pour-over will to keep in mind is that it is required to go through the probate process. Assets that are not funded into a trust before the grantor dies and are directed to be funded to the trust by the pour-over will still require probate.
For situations in which individuals die without a pour-over will or any other will specifying the handling of assets and whose trusts are not funded with assets they intended, their heirs will receive those assets in accordance to state law. The laws of intestate succession tend to vary from state to state.
An attorney who handles trusts and trust administration issues may assist clients with determining which estate planning devices may be necessary to ensure that the assets are handled according to the client's wishes. Assistance may be provided for drafting trust provision and creating the right type of will.