Oftentimes, a will serves as the foundation of an estate plan. When a will is improperly drafted, an individual's estate may be in jeopardy. This is because a poorly created will can lead to ambiguity, challenges, a lengthy probate process and even an undesired distribution of assets. Therefore, Californians need to be diligent in their efforts to create their wills and update them regularly. Skilled legal professionals may be able to advise as to how best to utilize these estate planning tools.
One option is to use what is referred to as a "pour-over will." Although even a basic will typically dictates how assets will be passed on to heirs, a dated will can mean that certain assets are missed. In these instances, those unidentified assets may pass down in accordance with state law, which may not be in-line with a testator's wishes. Additionally, a testator may not have as much control over assets that are not placed in a trust. Assets that aren't place in a trust are not subjected to the trust's conditions, though. This is where a pour-over will can help.
A pour-over will allows a testator to have all of his or her assets transfer or "pour-over" into a trust upon his or her death. This means that assets won't be missed and trusts won't have to be updated. A pour-over will therefore is an efficient way to manage an estate and its assets while ensuring their security and the estate's privacy. It is important to note, though, that assets that aren't placed in a trust will have to be probated, even if a pour-over will is in place.
Effective estate planning requires legal know-how and an understanding of how the law and certain legal documents apply to and effect the facts at hand. This is no easy process, especially considering the fact that there is no cookie-cutter approach to estate planning. Therefore, those who are interested in a custom-tailored estate plan should consider reaching out to a legal professional for assistance.