Estate Planning 101: What is a pourover will?

Home / Beneficiary / Estate Planning 101: What is a pourover will?

A pour-over will is a will used in conjunction with a revocable living trust to dispose of property owned by a person at their death which not transferred to the trust during the person’s lifetime.  It will revoke all prior wills, but unlike traditional wills does not list individuals as beneficiaries because it directs that all property owned by the person to be distributed to the trustee of the trust, which itself lists the beneficiaries to give the property.

Pour-over wills realyl act as a safety net for any assets which, for whatever reason, were not placed in the trust prior to the death of the creator of the trust.  For example, Tom Trustor created his revocable living trust in 2005 and at that time, owned a house in O’Fallon and a banking account with $500,000 in it.   In 2007, he moved to a new home in Lake St. Louis and changed banks, creating two accounts in his name alone with $250,000 each.  In 2009, Tom Trustor  transferred the Lake St. Louis home into the trust but does not transfer the bank accounts into the trust.  In 2013, Tom Trustor dies.

The Lake St. Louis home will transfer by the terms of the trust and not be subject to probate.  However, because the two bank accounts were not transferred into the trust, a probate estate will have to be opened in St. Charles County Circuit Court (because he died while living in St. Charles County).  Now, since Tom Trustor has a pour-over will, the executor he names in it will have to manage and administer the accounts through the probate process, but ultimately the accounts will be distributed according to the terms of the trust and to the beneficiaries named in the trust document.

Without the pour-over will, the accounts would be distributed in probate by state laws of intestacy which could provide that the proceeds of the accounts go to different people than were named in the trust.  Thus, a pour-over will is a must for anyone who has a trust.