Glossary: Pour Over Will

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The Pour Over Will Form is a legal document that details the assets that will poured into the trust already established by the person executing the will. The Pour Over Will is used in very specific circumstances when the grantor has already set up a trust. We highly recommend you consult with an attorney before considering this type of will.

Instead of disbursing your property through an executor, which is the normal procedure, a pour-over will states that any assets that have not been funded into your revocable living trust should be distributed to the trust when you die. It names the trust as the beneficiary of any property that it does not already hold. That property does not go directly to a person or charity, which is the most common stipulation of a last will and testament.

A pour-over will is a special type of last will and testament used in conjunction with a trust-based estate plan. It can save the day when the grantor of a trust—the person who created it—neglects to transfer all their property into the trust over the years and has no other will to determine which beneficiaries should receive that omitted property.

Instead of governing the distribution of all your property, a pour-over will state that any assets that have not been funded into your revocable living trust should go there when you die. It effectively names your trust as the beneficiary of any property it does not already hold. That property does not pass directly to a living beneficiary through some other means, such as a beneficiary designation on a life insurance policy or a retirement account. 

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Fortunately, in most cases, not very much property passes through a pour-over will. If the deceased person did a good job of estate planning, all the valuable assets were transferred to the trust before death. Only things of minor value should pass under the terms of the will—which means that the estate may qualify for special “small estate” probate procedures. These processes, usually called “summary probate,” are quicker, easier, and less expensive than regular probate. In most states, you can use them for any kind of property except real estate.

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