Many people in the Sacramento area and other parts of California may already have a trust set up for the maintenance and distribution of their property both during their lives and following their deaths. These trusts, called inter vivos trusts, are popular among Californians because of the possibility of "avoiding probate" and because, for some, they carry important tax advantages.
However, it is important for people to remember that, even if they have created a trust through a lawyer or by some other means, they will likely need well-drafted thorough wills. These wills, called pour-over wills, serve the important purpose of making sure that, assuming is a person's intention, all property of the person goes in to his or her trust after death, leaving nothing subject to California's intestate laws.
A pour-over will not need not be extraordinarily elaborate. However, it would ordinarily be more than a sentence or two, since one would want to be sure that the property he or she wants to go in to trust actually does. When correctly drafted and legally executed so as to be valid, a pour-over will serves two purposes.
For one, it prevents the common mistake of a person forgetting to put all property in his or her trust, or simply not realizing that he or she has failed to do so. Second, someone may not want to have all of his or her property in trust until after death, and the pour-over will can allow a person to feel safe keeping a piece of property outside of the trust.
As a word of warning though, beneficiary accounts, like bank accounts, stocks and life insurance, have their own set of rules. A person who wants to put this sort of property in trust after death will need to abide by these rules, with or without a pour-over will.
Source: Findlaw.com, "Will," Accessed July 21, 2017