Whether you have already created a Last Will and Testament or not, you undoubtedly know what one is. You may also know that a Will is not the only option for distributing your estate assets after you are gone. Using a trust to distribute your estate assets is another common option. In fact, there are a number of reasons why many people prefer to use a revocable trust as their primary method of distributing estate assets instead of using a Last Will and Testament. If you do choose to use a trust in lieu of a Will as your primary distribution method, you should still execute a “Pour Over Will” as well. If you are unfamiliar with a Pour Over Will, the following information should be beneficial in explaining why you need one if you choose not to rely on a Will to distribute your assets.
What Should You Use to Distribute Your Estate Assets?
Traditionally, a Last Will and Testament is used as the primary instrument to distribute estate assets when someone dies. A Will allows you to make both specific and general gifts to as many beneficiaries as you wish. A Will also allows you to name someone as the Executor of your estate. The Executor of your estate is the person who will oversee the probate of your estate after you are gone. The need to have your Will go through probate is precisely why people often decide to use a revocable trust instead of a Will as their primary method for distributing their estate assets when they die.
Why Is Avoiding Probate a Good Idea?
The biggest drawback to using a Last Will and Testament as your primary distribution method is that everything you gift through your Will must first go through probate. Probate is the legal process that is required of most estates following the death of the estate owner. Probate can be a lengthy and costly process. The larger and more valuable your estate is, the longer it will likely take to probate. Assets intended to be used by beneficiaries after your death will be held up, and therefore unavailable, until the probate process reaches a conclusion. There are also a number of expenses involved in probating an estate. All of those expenses diminish the value of the estate that is left for your loved ones. Finally, probate is a public process, meaning everything you include in your Will is accessible to the public.
The Benefits of Using a Revocable Trust
Using a revocable trust, instead of a Will, to distribute your estate assets allows your estate to avoid probate because assets held in a trust are not required to go through probate. As the Settlor of the trust, you can use the trust terms to distribute your estate assets when you are gone. Moreover, those assets will be immediately available to the intended beneficiaries when they are distributed using a trust instead of a Will. Finally, unlike a Will, a trust agreement is not usually made public, allowing your gifts to remain private.
Why Is a Pour Over Will Necessary?
Even if you choose to use a revocable trust to distribute your estate assets, you should still execute a Pour Over Will. A Pour Over Will is essentially just a very basic Will that “pours over” any estate assets not accounted for elsewhere into your trust. If, for example, you forgot to transfer an asset into your trust prior to your death, or you purchased an asset at the last minute so it didn’t get transferred into the trust, your Pour Over Will takes care of transferring the asset into your trust at the time of your death. Any assets that remain outside of your trust at the time of your death will be handled using your Pour Over Will. That Will directs all estate assets into your revocable trust, thereby ensuring that all of your assets will be distributed using your trust.
If you have questions or concerns relating to a Pour Over Will, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.