What is a Pour-Over Will and Do I Need One?
One of the most difficult parts of estate planning is making sure to identify and account for all of your assets. It can be anxiety-inducing trying to remember everything. Luckily, you do not have to. A pour-over will acts as an insurance policy for your estate plan. This means that even if you do not remember everything, your assets will still end up in the right place. Pour-over wills can be complicated to establish, as they work in conjunction with a living trust, so it is generally a good idea to work with an experienced New Jersey estate attorney to make sure that your trust is functional and valid.
Pour-Over Wills, Explained
A pour-over will works in conjunction with a living trust to ensure that all of your assets will be transferred to the trust automatically upon your death, even if they were not added to the trust during your life. A living trust is a kind of trust that offers a great deal of flexibility, allowing you to add or remove assets freely during your life, and to make changes to the beneficiaries whenever you choose. The primary feature of a living trust is that it allows you to avoid probate, making it easy to distribute assets to beneficiaries upon your death.
How a Pour-Over Will Helps You Avoid Probate
When you transfer assets or property into a living trust, the assets become the property of the trust and no longer belong to you. This is highly significant when it comes to avoiding probate because the probate process requires that all of the decedent’s assets (known as the decedent’s estate) be settled and distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries, either following their will or based on the state’s intestate succession statutes. It is beneficial to avoid probate because it can be costly, time-consuming, and detrimental to your loved ones and dependents. The longer a matter stays in probate, the more it can deplete the estate’s assets, meaning that there will be fewer assets to go to the beneficiaries, and also that beneficiaries may lack access to vital assets for months or even years during the probate process.
A pour-over will ensures that even if assets are not transferred to a living trust during the decedent’s life, they will automatically be transferred to the trust upon their death, meaning that there will be no stray assets left that have to go through the probate process. The pour-over will can also act as an insurance policy for the trust, if the trust is found to be invalid or unenforceable, the pour-over will can dictate that the contents of the trust be distributed to its beneficiaries.
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