Previous discussions have described the many useful functions that various forms of trusts can serve in Florida estate plans. Even though establishing a trust accomplishes one important task in estate planning, the will remains a fundamental element of any estate plan. Readers in West Palm Beach should remember that the terms of a will can be critical to the proper execution of a trust and should consider taking the time to review their plans with a professional in order to make sure that all their estate planning instruments are set up to work together.
One important component of many estate plans is known as the pour-over will. A trust can only distribute to beneficiaries those assets in which the trust has a legal property interest. In some cases, a person's most valuable assets will not be assigned to the trust during the grantor's lifetime. The pour-over will ensures that those assets are conveyed to the trust upon the death of the grantor.
A pour-over will can be especially important under the most unexpected circumstances. For example, if a person receives an inheritance but dies before placing his inheritance into a trust, the inherited property will be distributed according to state law rather than according to the terms of the trust. With a pour-over will, the inheritance would be placed in trust automatically upon the grantor's death and would be distributed according to the wishes set forth in his trust.
Floridians with a revocable trust or living trust will want to make sure that their will contains the pour-over provisions necessary to pass all of their assets into the trust upon death. Even if the pour-over provisions never come into play, they serve as a safety net to preserve the grantor's wishes in the event of the unexpected.
Source: The Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley News Journal, "The Pour-Over Will," Marlene S. Cooper, Oct. 9, 2012