Pour-Over Wills

Dean Hanewinckel

A question I am asked quite a bit is, "Why do we need a Will, when we have a trust?  I thought having a trust meant we avoided probate and don't have to use a Will."

Basically, that statement is correct.  Every asset that is titled in the trust at the time of your death will be distributed to the beneficiaries named in the trust without probate.  However, there is the chance that not all of your assets have been transferred to your trust.   It's possible that you may have forgotten to put something into the trust.  Or you may have acquired an asset after setting up your trust and neglected to title it into the trust.  Or it's possible that you may acquire property after your death. 

I can use an example of that last circumstance from my own experience.  My great-uncle passed away and left a portion of his estate to my father.  Before the estate was fully administered, my father died.  Because he survived my great-uncle, the inheritance passed to him.  But because my father died prior to receiving the inheritance, he could not put it into his trust.  Like it or not, the inheritance became a part of my father's probate estate and we had to use his Will to transfer the inheritance assets into his trust.

The Will we prepare with your trust is known as a "Pour-Over" Will.  This is because it takes any assets that have not been transferred to your trust and pours them over into the trust.  Remember that anything that goes into the trust throught the Pour-Over Will must go through probate, so we try to make sure that there will be no need for it.  The Pour-Over Will serves as a safety net to make sure nothing fall between the cracks and that the beneficiaries in your trust will receive their alloted shares.