One of the challenges of using a trust to transfer assets to beneficiaries is that people tend to acquire new assets and property before they pass away. A trust must be updated to include these assets. Otherwise, when the owner dies, these assets will not be moved to the trust. This is why California residents who have set up trusts should consider using a pour-over will to create some added protection for their estates.

Bankrate explains that pour-over wills can be used after you have set up a trust that transfers assets into the trust after you pass away. Through a pour-over will, a person can specify that any assets that are not currently named by a trust will be moved to the trust automatically after the testator dies. This helps prevent property from not being part of your estate plan.

Pour-over wills also add some efficiency and security to a person’s estate. FindLaw points out that pour-over wills simplify the process by gathering more control over the estate into the pour-over document, making it easier for an estate executor to carry out the wishes of the testator. Also, by using a pour-over will to move assets into a trust, information about those assets is private due to the fact that trusts are not made part of the public record.

The main drawback of using a pour-over will is that like a regular will, it must pass through probate. This is not a problem if the probate process moves quickly along. However, if the will is contested, it can delay property named in the pour-over will from being transferred to the trust. This is why some people choose to limit their pour-over wills to transferring property that does not possess high value.

A pour-over will is just one way California residents can use wills and trusts together to create an effective estate plan to carry out their wishes. To properly utilize a pour-over will and harmonize it with other estate planning documents, it may be necessary to ask an experienced estate planning attorney for guidance.