How do living trusts and pour-over wills relate?

Creating a living trust allows you to place all your assets and property into the trust to use for your benefit during your lifetime.  After your death, these assets are then transferred to all of your designated beneficiaries by a representative of your choosing, the “successor trustee”.

Choosing a living trust as part of your estate plan helps you to avoid probate which can save your estate both money and the time involved in distributing your assets after your death. A living trust isn’t made public, allowing your estate to be distributed in private. In addition, you trustee can also take over if you should become ill or incapacitated.

Having a pour-over will is important if you have created a living trust because it acts as a safety device to “capture” any assets and property that have not been transferred into the trust before your death.  These two legal documents work together to make sure that all your assets and property end up in your trust. If not, then any assets or property not in your trust at the time of your death will still belong to your estate and will be treated as if you had died intestate — without a will– so will pass to certain heirs according to the intestate laws of your state.  Sadly, these heirs may not be the beneficiaries that you named in your trust.

Start with the living trust

Estate planning is all about outlining your wishes as to how you want your assets and property to be distributed after your death as well as how you would like your minor children or other family members with special needs to be care for after death.

Some of the legal documents that could be included in your estate plan are:

  • Power of Attorney
  • Healthcare Directive
  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Pour-over Will

The type of documents included in your estate plan is based on the type of plan that you choose for yourself.  For example, in cases involving business ownership, those estates will be more complicated, so it’s beneficial to create a living trust along with a pour-over will because they work better for passing down the ownership of a business.

Catch the rest in a pour-over will

Planning your estate and making provisions for your end-of-life is a very personal experience. There are any number of ways to combine the legal documents that you’ll need to make sure all your assets and property are distributed according to your wishes after your death.

If you choose to set up a living trust vs a last will and testament, you still need to have a pour-over will which provides for the transfer of assets and property that have been left out of the trust when you die.  And, you’ll want to consider having other legal documents in place such as Medical Power of Attorney to outline your preferences for medical treatment should you become incapacitated.

At the Law Office of David W. Foley, California Living Trusts, we specialize in estate planning, including California pour-over will documents. Schedule an appointment to consult with one of our estate planning attorneys.

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