Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

The benefits of a pour-over will

A pour-over will can help Utah residents make sure that assets are properly allocated into a trust. In effect, anything that isn't titled for the estate owner's living trust is automatically placed there when he or she passes on. Although it should not be used as a safety net, it can ensure that an estate plan is structured as desired.

It is important to note that a pour-over will is subject to probate even if assets inside a trust are generally not. This means that a court will examine the document to make sure that it is valid under state law. If an individual dies without a will or trust, he or she will be deemed to have died intestate. State law would then determine who would get any assets an individual owned at death.

In most cases of an intestate estate owner, a spouse, child or grandchild would receive assets. Other family members may be entitled to nothing, however, even if they were intended to be the beneficiary of the estate. To reduce the odds of unintended beneficiaries receiving homes, money or other items, it is a good idea to review an estate plan yearly. A revocable trust may be altered at any point by the trustee if he or she is of sound mind.

The use of wills and living trusts may make it easier to carry out an individual's final wishes. By leaving clear instructions as to how assets should be distributed, it may avoid a scenario in which an estranged child or former spouse receives a home or other assets. A will could also eliminate the possibility of family members fighting among themselves during the allocation process.

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