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What is a Pour-Over Will and When Do You Need One?

September 20, 2017 by Greg Port, J.D., M.B.A.


There are many advantages to using a living trust instead of a will. A living trust will allow the successor trustee to manage your estate if you become incapacitated and cannot do it yourself. It also means that upon your death, all assets in the trust pass to the successor without having to go through the lengthy probate process that a will requires. It may still be a good idea to have a pour-over will.

In this post, we'll take a look at what a pour-over will is, and what benefits it may offer you in your estate plan.

What Does a Pour-Over Will Do?

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When you setup a pour-over will, you are telling the probate court that any assets that are not already in the trust should be added to the trust upon your death.

Because these assets must still go through the probate process in order to be added to the trust, a pour-over will is not a replacement for a properly managed living trust. It does, however, provide peace of mind in case an asset is not added to the trust before your death.

What are the Advantages of a Pour-Over Will?

Whether it is due to lack of time between acquiring the asset, or simple oversight, a pour-over will acts as a backup plan and is a good thing to have in place. Here are some of the advantages of having a pour-over will.

1. You Simplify the Role of the Executor

A pour-over will simplifies the role of the executor of the will. Under a traditional will, the executor of the estate must gather the assets, pay any debts and taxes, and then distribute the assets to the beneficiaries.

With a pour-over will the executor's only role is to transfer the assets to the trust. The trustee then takes on the role that the executor would traditionally fulfill. Unlik

e an executor, the trustee will not have access to property that is still in the probate estate.

2. You Can Still Direct The Distribution of Your Assets

If you have specific items that you still want to leave to a certain person, a pour-over will still allow for that.

For example, you can make sure your daughter still gets that sentimental family heirloom that has not been added to the trust.

A pour-over will still gives you complete control over what does and doesn't get added to the trust.

What are the Disadvantages of a Pour-Over Will?

There are no disadvantages to a pour-over will, and it is essential to have one in place when executing a living trust. The disadvantage comes when it is necessary to use the pour-over will.

Rather than your property passing through the trust, and avoiding the public nature of probate court, the property must go through the probate process. To avoid your pour-over will being used, make sure to place all of your titled property into the name of your living trust.

The Importance of a Qualified Probate Lawyer

As we've mentioned, a pour-over will is an essential backup for assets that have not made it into the trust. To eliminate the assets that need to be covered by the pour-over, and are subject to a potentially lengthy probate process, it is beneficial to work with an experienced probate lawyer.

Port Legal has the experience necessary to make your end of life property distribution as simple as possible for the intended recipients.

If you are considering setting up a trust, please contact us and allow our expertise to work for you.

Our consultations are completely free of charge and intended to equip you to make the best decision.


Topics: Estate Planning, Wills, Last Will & Testament, Ohio Probate Lawyer

Greg Port, J.D., M.B.A.

Written by Greg Port, J.D., M.B.A.

Port Legal founding attorney, Gregory Port has over 30 years experience. He has provided strategic corporate law representation in Central Ohio to clients since 1990. Gregory Port is a lawyer actively practicing in the areas of probate, estate planning, and real estate. His experience and core values are the cornerstones of Port Legal as a specialized advocate for your interests.