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By: Scott Grossman on June 26th, 2017

Pour-Over Wills Might Be the Answer

The Benefits of Pour-Over Wills and Living Trusts

When planning for the distribution of the estate after their death, some people opt for a Living Trust. Assets brought under a Trust avoid the lengthy process of California probate and can be managed by a “successor trustee,” who is appointed to take over the management after the original trustee has passed away, resigned, or been declared incompetent.

The Trust may provide directions on the distribution of the trust’s property to relatives, friends, or charities, just like a will. There are other advantages to a Living Trust: it may avoid or reduce federal estate taxes, and the cumbersome and costly court-supervised process of Conservatorship¬†could be avoided in situations where the estate owner can no longer manage his or her financial and personal affairs.

After creating a Trust, the trust creator must transfer the title of each property from their names to the Trust’s name. Therefore; this can be easy for certain items, but some will take longer than others, such as real property. This is where Pour-Over Wills can help.

What are Pour-Over Wills?

A Pour-Over Will is a will in which the estate owner names only one beneficiary: the Living Trust. At their death, assets not in the Trust transfer to the Trust, and distribution happens according to the Trust.

By doing this, trust creators can ensure assets in their personal names get onto the Trust. This can include things like real estate, vehicles, stocks, bonds, IRA, or 401K, and any other probate-able assets.

Do the “Poured Over” Assets Have to Go through Probate?

If the value of the decedent’s assets not yet brought into the Trust at death exceeds the limits determined by California law, then the answer is yes. If not, transferring assets to the Trust can happen by using declarations authorized by the California Probate Code.

A Pour-Over Will can include some other provisions, like distribution of personal property (clothing, jewelry, furniture…) to beneficiaries, or directions about taxes or guardianship for minors.

If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form.  If you want a comprehensive overview of California Probate, then click here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, then you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.