July 08, 2016
Michigan Wills and Trusts Lawyer: What is a Pour-Over Will?
Most people are familiar with a basic Last Will and Testament, but very few people in Michigan know what a Pour-Over Will is.
Essentially, a Pour-Over Will is used in conjunction with a Trust, usually a Revocable Living Trust, and it directs that any assets you own outside of the trust at the time of your death should be placed into your trust and distributed according to trust guidelines.
How Does a Pour-Over Will work?
Here’s an example of how this works. Say that at the time of your death you owned a piece of property that you forgot to title in the name of the trust you created with your Michigan will and trust lawyer. Because of this oversight, the asset would fall “outside” of your trust and would not receive the protections that you had hoped for when you created your estate plan in the first place. However, if you had a “Pour-Over Will,” even though you made an error, the asset would still get directed back into your trust anyway.
In this regard, the pour-over will acts as a safety net to make sure that all of your solely-owned assets will be distributed according to the terms of the trust after you pass away.
Michigan wills and trusts lawyers tell their clients that unlike a Last Will and Testament, one of the greatest advantages of using a Pour-Over Will is that it does not have to state how the estate assets will be distributed. Instead, it merely has to state that the assets should go into the trust. This is an important aspect of estate planning for anyone who is concerned about privacy and does not want their personal affairs made public through the probate court.
Does a Pour-Over Will go to Probate?
However, just like a Last Will and Testament, the Pour-Over Will is subject to probate proceedings in general. The length and complexity of the proceedings depends on the amount of assets that were held outside of the Revocable Living Trust. The trust will have to continue to exist for however long the estate is in probate, so Trustees should understand that their fiduciary responsibilities may extend for longer than they thought if any property is held outside the trust and must go through probate.
If you have any questions about the difference between a Last Will and Testament and a Pour-Over Will, or if you’d like to review your existing estate plan to make sure your assets will be distributed according to your wishes after you pass away, please contact our Michigan Wills and Trusts law firm at (888) 390-4360 to set up a consultation.