Many larger estates focus mainly on creating trusts that allow testators lots of flexibility in how they direct their assets as well as some tax benefits in passing significant assets to beneficiaries. However, in conjunction with setting up a trust, your estate planning attorney will have you create a pour-over will to work with your trust. This way, even if you have some assets that do not make it into your trust during your lifetime, they can move into the trust during probate.
Drafting a Pour-Over Will
When you have a trust set up during your life, you have the choice to move assets into the trust at that point or in the future. However, once you die, any assets not in the trust become subject to probate. While a pour-over will won’t help those assets avoid the probate process, it will move over any assets you didn’t get around to moving into the trust during your life. Those assets can then be managed and distributed to the beneficiaries of the trust according to the trust documents.
The pour-over will must be valid and executed according to state law and take into account spouse, children, and others who are the traditional beneficiaries of an estate. Your will needs to address each of these individuals, whether or not they will be get anything from the estate or trust, and make sure that other relevant details, such as naming your personal representative, are handled. Then, your pour-over will directs the person appointed as your personal representative to pour any assets that are part of your estate into your trust.
Probating a Pour-Over Will
The probate process for a pour-over will is similar to the probate process for any other will, except that assets are moved into the trust rather than distributed to beneficiaries. Once the assets are in the trust, they are then managed according to the trust’s documents. The court will approve the personal representative who will then be responsible for collecting an account of your assets and outstanding debts, settling those debts, and then getting everything approved by the court before it is moved to the trust. Moving everything to a trust can make the estate process much more efficient, though it does not avoid it entirely.
Trusts are not a matter of public record the way estates are and so can help keep your private asset information from being easily searchable. Assets in a trust can be held, managed, or distributed on your death according to your wishes and fairly promptly. You may direct your trustee to distribute part of the assets on your death or just pay income to beneficiaries, and wait until the probate process is complete for the rest. Trusts can be customized to meet a wide variety of needs and goals.
The experienced trust and estates planning team from Dunn Law Firm have helped clients craft their trusts, pour-over wills, and comprehensive estate plans to handle a wide variety of goals, family structures, and property interests. To learn more, reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 to set up a free consultation today.