A pour-over will is a handy estate planning tool when used with a living trust. It allows you, the trust maker, to address undesignated property that you might have left out of your regular will.
For example, say that you forgot to include your granddad’s impressive coin collection in your estate planning documents. A pour-over will ensures your grandfather’s coins and any other leftover assets go immediately into the associated trust upon your death for distribution to your beneficiaries.
Pour-over wills offer several advantages, but there are a couple of downsides to consider:
It does not avoid probate
Unfortunately, property not already in your trust must go through the California probate process. That means it could take quite a long time for your heirs to access your trust assets.
A possible remedy. Use a pour-over will as a catchall for any low-to-mid-value property you might have overlooked to minimize probate risks. However, remember to transfer valuable assets into the trust while alive and in good health to keep them out of probate.
It may not prevent contests
Your heirs and beneficiaries can challenge a pour-over will the same as they can an ordinary will. That means your final wishes might be at risk if preventing family infights is a primary goal.
Find a solution. There are several options (no contest clause, etc.) to consider for discouraging wills contests among your heirs. Speak with an estate planning professional to find an option that meets your needs.
Of course, familiarity with California trusts and wills legal requirements allows you to beef up your estate plan while remaining compliant with state law.