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Make sure your will and trust work together

If you are like most people, your estate plan probably includes both a will and at least one trust. Because your estate planning goals and objectives can change over time, you may not have created these documents at the same time. Have you reviewed them recently to make sure they still work together? 

Generally, your will represents your estate plan’s foundation document, the one in which you designate your heirs and what you want them to inherit when you die. A trust can provide for one or more specific people, including yourself, during your lifetime and beyond. If the provisions of your will and your trust(s) conflict with each other, however, your estate plan may not ultimately work the way you intended. To ensure that it does, create a pour-over will. 

Pour-over will definition 

Unlike other types of wills, a pour-over will designates your trust(s) as sole heir(s) of your estate. How? It instructs your executor to pour over all the assets you personally own at the time of your death into your trust(s). This does not disinherit your “real” heirs because you named them as beneficiaries of your trust(s). 

Pour-over will advantages 

When you establish a trust, you place assets into it. Depending on how you structure your trust, you no longer own these assets. Your trust does. This can save you considerable estate taxes and possibly gift taxes. It also lets you bypass probate for the assets in the trust. 

The advantages of your pour-over include the following: 

  • You no longer need to worry that you forgot or neglected to add assets to your trust(s) that you acquired after you created it or them. 
  • You no longer need to continually update your revocable trust(s) to place new assets into it or them. 
  • You rest easy knowing that your will now works as your catch-all document and your foundation document. 

When you review your existing will and trust(s), make sure your will mentions it or them and vice versa. Also, ensure that the language and provisions of one do not conflict with those of the other(s).