Don’t Let Time Be Your Enemy

By: Pile Law Firm, PLLC

Pour-Over Wills: Integrating Trusts and Wills for Comprehensive Estate Planning

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How Does a Pennsylvania “Pour Over” Will Benefit My Estate Plan?

So, when it comes to setting up your estate plan, there are a lot of different options to consider, based on your specific financial and family situation. Each plan is unique, depending on a bunch of factors, so they can range from pretty straightforward to more complex.

That’s why it’s super important to work with a professional and skilled estate planning lawyer is mandatory. We know all the ins and outs and can help you navigate the complexities to create a plan that fits your needs perfectly.

For instance, your plan might involve something called a “pour over” Will. In places like Pennsylvania, this is just another piece of the puzzle in estate planning. Basically, it ensures that any assets you haven’t specifically transferred into your trust during your lifetime will automatically go to your loved ones or chosen beneficiaries after you pass away. It’s important to note that this transfer happens through the living trust you’ve already set up. So, it’s all part of making sure everything goes smoothly according to your wishes.

Think of a “pour-over” Will as an extra safety measure in your estate plan. Its main job is to catch any assets you might have forgotten to put into your living trust, whether by accident or on purpose.

Now, why is this kind of Will important? Well, imagine you’ve missed including some assets in your living trust. Without a pour-over Will, those assets could end up being dealt with according to Pennsylvania’s intestate succession laws, which isn’t always ideal. So, having a pour-over Will means that anything you’ve left out will still be distributed according to your wishes.

But here’s the thing to keep in mind: even with a pour-over Will, your assets might still have to go through probate under Pennsylvania law. This means it could take a bit longer for everything to get sorted out, but rest assured, your assets will still end up where you intended them to be.

What Must I Do If I Wish to Use a Pour Over Will in My Estate Plan?

Alright, let’s break it down in simpler terms. If you want to take advantage of a pour-over Will, the first step is to work with your experienced estate planning lawyer to set up a legal living trust. Once that’s in place, your pour-over Will is typically linked directly to your trust.

Now, when it comes to setting up your living trust, you’ve got a couple of options:

  • Using a revocable trust – Using a revocable trust will allow you, as the grantor of your estate, to have complete control over your assets in the trust up until your death.
  • Or, using an irrevocable trust – This type of trust uses a trusted relative, friend, or professional as the trustee of your estate. Your trustee will control all the assets placed in your trust till your death. Upon which time, they will distribute your assets to your loved ones and other estate beneficiaries. This type of trust is usually used in larger estates with more assets, so the tax burdens imposed upon your beneficiaries may be minimized.

Trusts can be a significant value to you and your family, but they must be drafted by a professional who is well-versed in your particularly unique financial and familial situation; so, thoroughly discussing all your plans and wishes with a detail-oriented, empathetic, Blue Bell estate planning lawyer is the best way to go.

Is Drafting a Living Trust Complex, And What Assets May Be Included?

Yes, it is true that, at times, correctly drafting and especially funding a living trust can be legally complex. Also, in many instances, not all assets are transferred into the trust before you pass away, or perhaps some are overlooked.

Unfortunately, any assets not transferred into your trust will be considered as your personal property in Pennsylvania and may be subject to inheritance taxes and the lengthy, possibly drawn-out Pennsylvania probate process.

Sometimes, despite your efforts to set up a trust, certain assets might not end up in it before you pass away. This could happen for various reasons:

  • You acquired additional property or assets under your name after the trust was drafted and executed.
  • You didn’t recall or were not aware of a specific property titled in your name exclusively.
  • Due to an error, you failed to include assets or property in the living trust.
  • The asset was destined for transfer but not retitled in the trust’s name, or one or more transfers failed.
  • You sold a piece of property included in the trust but died before the money was transferred to your trust account.

In all these cases, a pour-over Will could really help smooth things out for your family and beneficiaries after you’re gone. But to get all the details and understand how a pour-over Will works best for you, it’s a good idea to reach out to a well-versed Blue Bell estate planning law team. We’ll be able to guide you through everything you need to know.

How Do I Know if I Need an Estate Plan?

You might think that only wealthy or older folks need a fancy estate plan, but that’s not true. Any family, no matter their size or wealth, can benefit from having a well-made estate plan. It’s all about being prepared for whatever life throws your way.

Your estate planning lawyer has a bunch of tools at their disposal, including the following:

  • Wills and Trusts.
  • Varied types of powers of attorney.
  • Healthcare Directives and Living Wills.
  • Life insurance policies and much more.

These tools help ensure your wishes are followed, whether you become incapacitated or pass away.

Having a solid estate plan isn’t just about divvying up your stuff when you’re gone. It also lays out your wishes for your family, especially if you can’t make important decisions for yourself during your life or if the unexpected happens and you’re no longer around.

I Need to Know More About Pour Over Wills; How Should I Proceed?

Even if you think you don’t have a lot of assets, it’s smart to talk to an experienced estate planning lawyer in Blue Bell. We can give you helpful advice and ensure things are sorted out properly, especially if you become unable to make decisions or pass away. With clear, legal instructions in place, your family can navigate things easier during a tough time and move forward smoothly.

The Blue Bell estate planning lawyers at the Pile Law Firm know there is no “one size fits all” estate plan and will thoroughly go over your situation and take the time to tailor your plan to fit your singular needs. Call us today at (267) 281-1675 for a free consultation, and know your family’s future is in the right hands.