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How does a pour-over will protect your estate?

Trusts are important estate planning tools in California, and having one set up and funded may give you considerable peace of mind. Updating it as you acquire assets may seem like a tedious chore, but if you don't, there's a chance that some of your assets won't be distributed to your beneficiaries the way you planned. Is there another option?

Fortunately, there is. FindLaw explains that you can create a pour-over will that states that any assets not in your trust at the time of your death will be transferred to it by the executor of your estate. 

Unlike the assets already in your trust, the assets covered by your pour-over will cannot be immediately distributed to your beneficiaries according to the instructions for your trust. The assets must first go through probate. This means your executor must inventory them and then pay taxes and debts before what is left can be transferred to your trust. This process typically takes a few months.

Even though the delay may seem like a negative, consider the alternative. If you have assets that are not listed in a will or a trust, they may be distributed to your heirs according to the state's intestacy laws, regardless of your wishes. So, while it is a good idea to transfer assets to your trust as you acquire them, a pour-over will may be the tool you need to ensure your beneficiaries receive the assets you want them to have. 

This general information about pour-over wills may help you understand these legal documents, but it is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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