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How can pour-over wills be made part of trust planning?

Estate planning may seem simple at first, but, if one wishes to take full advantage of the opportunity to bypass probate and pass their assets on to their chosen heirs, it is important to execute the right documents. An incomplete estate plan that does not have the necessary wills and trusts may not accomplish what a person wants it to. For example, if a person in Minnesota wishes to not have their estate probated, not only might they execute a trust, but they may also execute a pour-over will to complement that trust and ensure all their bases are covered.

Through a pour-over will, the assets a person has left when they pass away will automatically be transferred into a trust that the person set up while they were still alive. This way, a person can avoid having these assets probated, since trust assets are distributed directly to the beneficiaries of the trust. This makes a pour-over will an attractive option for many.

Normally, a trust is funded with estate assets during the grantor's lifetime. However, there may be some assets that have not been placed in the trust at the time of the grantor's death, either accidentally or because the grantor wanted to hold on to them during their lifetime. Unless a pour-over will is in place, these assets would have to be probated. And, in the absence of any will whatsoever, a person's estate will be probated, and the assets distributed to heirs via the laws of intestate succession. This could result in estate assets going to an heir that a person would not have chosen.

So, trusts and pour-over wills work hand-in-hand to help a person avoid probate. Trusts generally need to be funded during a person's lifetime to be effective. However, if certain assets are not placed in the trust at the time of the grantor's death, a pour-over will can account for these assets and ensure they are properly funneled into the trust, as the grantor intended. However, trusts and pour-over wills are complex legal documents that must be carefully drafted to accomplish the purpose the grantor wants them to. Therefore, those interested in executing a trust and pour-over will may want to seek legal guidance, which this post does not provide.

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