How a Pour-Over Will Acts as a “Catch-All” for Your Estate Plan

Estate planning is essential for people of all ages. This is especially true in New York City, a city with unmatched vibrance and, frankly, unpredictability. Thorough estate planning is crucial to protect yourself, your finances, your family, and your legacy.

The primary aim of any estate plan is to preserve assets and wealth, ensure your chosen heirs and beneficiaries are taken care of, and lessen the burden of the probate process for your loved ones, ensuring they can inherit your legacy with minimal delays or legal complications. However, even the most effective and detailed estate plan may not be able to catch all the assets you acquire in your lifetime, especially if you pass away unexpectedly.

This is where a pour-over will comes into play. It’s an element of estate planning that allows you to transfer assets into a trust at the time of your death.

What is a Pour-Over Will?

A pour-over will is designed to work in tandem with a living trust. This planning mechanism creates language allowing you to “catch” any assets that weren’t already transferred into a trust during your lifetime. The document informs the court of your intent to take care of unaccounted-for assets which will ensure they are transferred to your chosen beneficiaries without getting caught up for an extended period of time in probate.

Without a pour-over will, any assets outside your trust are treated as if you died intestate, or without a will. This situation results in the distribution of your non-trust assets according to New York intestate succession laws, which may not align with your personal wishes.

Avoiding Redundant Estate Planning

To avoid confusion or legal issues, a pour-over will should not list any property that has already been transferred into the trust or addressed by another component of your estate plan. Ensure that the pour-over will only directly address any assets that aren’t marked within your plan or even within accounts that have beneficiary designations within them.

A “Catch-All” For the Unpredictable

Generally, the only time it’s “too late” for estate planning is when you become incapacitated or die. The courts don’t want people who aren’t you making appointments and changes to assets you worked hard for. A pour-over will is one of the only elements of estate planning that actually allows changes after your death, though they will be handled by the court and the terms must be addressed before your death.

Having the trustee of your living trust as the beneficiary of your pour-over will facilitate a smooth transition of assets into the trust following your death, acting as a “catch-all” for anything you missed whether on purpose or by mistake.

Estate Planning Peace of Mind with Drucker & Mattia, Attorneys at Law

At Drucker & Mattia, Attorneys at Law, we understand the nuanced estate planning needs of the people of New York. Your lifelong effort to accumulate assets and wealth deserves to be protected through effective, holistic estate planning. Contact our team to create an estate plan that brings peace of mind to you and your loved ones.

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