If you’re thinking of getting a revocable or irrevocable trust, you should know about a pour-over will. A trust holds legal title to property for the benefit of another person (beneficiary). You need to fund the trust, which involves transferring assets to the trust.
A pour-over will is a last will and testament which transfers the deceased person’s property at the time of their death to the trust. The pour-over will basically acts as a safety net for the trust. If the person who created the trust (grantor) forgot to transfer an asset to the trust, at the time of their death that asset will pass through the pour-over will to the trust, however; the asset must first go through probate. The probate process should be shorter than usual since the assumption is that there will be minimal assets involved and the court doesn’t have to ensure all the beneficiaries have received notice and distributions; the court must only ensure that the assets get poured over into the trust.
Let’s say George created a revocable trust five years ago. He funded it with his assets, including his home, vacation home, investment accounts, certificates of deposit, and a money market account. Two weeks before he died, George opened a new investment account. He never had the chance to put the new investment account in the trust. At the time of his death, the pour-over will directs that the investment account go into the trust, however; it must first go through probate. The instructions in the trust would then dictate the distribution of assets, including the new investment account. A pour-over will ensures that in the end, the trust governs all of George’s assets.
When using a trust-based estate plan, a pour-over will is also where parents can name guardians for their minor children. If parents don’t choose the guardian of their minor children, that decision ends up in the hands of the court. Choosing the right guardian for their child is a very important decision. Parents want to ensure their children will be taken care of by someone they know and trust.
As a skilled Massachusetts estate planning attorney, I can help you create a trust-based estate plan and a pour-over will in addition to other documents. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.