Distributing your estate assets can be accomplished using either a Will or a living trust. Because of the additional benefits a trust offers, many people choose to rely on a trust as the primary vehicle for distributing their estate assets. That does not mean, however, that a Will is no longer necessary. An Oklahoma City probate attorney at Parman & Easterday explains why you still need a pour-over Will if you are counting on a trust to distribute your estate assets.
What Can a Basic Last Will and Testament Accomplish?
A Last Will and Testament is a legally binding testament that allows you to make general and specific gifts of assets from your estate to designated beneficiaries. These gifts are required to be honored after your death. Your Will allows you to appoint the Executor of your estate and the Guardian for your minor children. A Will is fine to distribute a relatively simple and modest estate. If you have minor children, complex assets, or distinct estate planning goals, you should consider incorporating a trust into your estate plan to distribute your assets after your death.
What Can a Trust Accomplish?
A trust is a relationship in which property is held by one party for the benefit of another. A trust is created by a Settlor (also referred to as a Trustor, Maker or Grantor), who transfers property to a Trustee. The Trustee can be you or someone else who holds your property for the trust’s beneficiaries. All trusts are of two types – testamentary or inter vivos, commonly referred to as a living trust. A testamentary trust is a trust that arises upon the death of the Settlor and is activated by a provision in the Settlor’s Will. A living trust is a trust that takes effect as soon as it is properly executed.
What Is a Pour-Over Will?
Although a trust takes the place of a Last Will and Testament in the distribution of estate assets, at your death, you may leave loose ends that can only be taken care of by a Will. While you may transfer your most valuable assets into your trust prior to your death, you may leave behind some assets that failed to make it into the trust. Personal items, vehicles, less valuable assets, bank accounts used for day to day banking, and even valuable assets purchased just prior to your death are examples of assets that might be left out of the trust at the time of your death. If they remain unaccounted for, they will create an intestate estate that requires probate. For this reason, a “Pour Over Will” is included in your trust-based estate plan. A Pour Over Will directs that all assets not already transferred into the trust be “poured over” into the trust after your death, preventing the need for an intestate administration for those left-over assets.
Contact an Oklahoma City Probate Attorney
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the need for a pour-over Will, contact an experienced Oklahoma City probate attorney at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 to schedule your appointment today.
Intestate administration refers to the probate of an intestate estate. When a decedent dies without a Will, the estate is referred to as an “intestate” estate and the state intestate succession laws determine how and to whom the estate assets will be distributed.
One benefit to using a trust as the primary vehicle for distributing your estate assets is that trust assets are non-probate assets, meaning they do not go through probate. If your pour-over Will is responsible for distributing any assets, formal or informal probate may be required.
As the Testator of the Will, you can appoint anyone as your Executor. Given the often complex nature of probate, it is best to consult with your estate planning attorney before deciding who to appoint as your Executor.