Call for a FREE Consultation

21November 19

What Is a Pour Over Will?

What is a pour-over will? Essentially it is a contingency that allows those who use trust-based estate planning to transfer assets that are not held in trusts into a trust at the moment of their passing.

Trusts are a powerful estate planning tool. They allow you to transfer assets that are meant to be disbursed to your loved ones into self-contained legal entities that act as containers for these assets. But what happens if you purchase a new item and you never got a chance to allocate the item to the trust? With a pour-over will, you can create a contingency that allows assets not held in trusts to be transferred into trusts at the moment of your passing. Below, we’ll discuss how this works.

How Does a Pour-Over Will Work?

The concept is fairly basic. A pour-over will states that any assets that are not currently funding a trust should be placed in a revocable living trust when you pass. In essence, it names the trust as a primary beneficiary of assets that are not held in a trust. 

Will Pour-Over Wills Pass Through Probate?

Yes. They will pass through probate before they are allocated to the will, since they are not considered part of the trust and the trust is named as a beneficiary. However, assets not already contained in a trust will pass through probate anyway. For items that you want to keep off the public record or prevent from passing through probate, placing the assets into a living trust prior to your death is essential. However, since the trust contains language that designates your wishes, the items will be disbursed according to your wishes once they pass into the trust.

What Happens if I Don’t Have a Pour-Over Will?

If you don’t have a pour-over will or otherwise direct to whom or what those assets should be transferred, the property will be distributed according to the directives of your will or, if not otherwise specified, will be disbursed according to intestate succession. Intestate succession is what happens to assets and property that are bequeathed without a will. The law provides for a hierarchy of beneficiaries with your spouse being the highest on the list and your children next in line. 

Advantages of Pour-Over Wills

Pour-over wills act as a failsafe to prevent your assets from being distributed according to intestate succession. Many estate planners also recommend pour-over wills because it’s much simpler to have all assets covered by one trust document. This makes executing an estate plan much simpler. Pour-over wills provide a complete framework for making this possible. They also allow you the privacy of preventing others from knowing who gets what. In that regard, the trust acts as a shadow document that prevents heirs from bickering amongst each other.


Disadvantages of Pour-Over Wills

The main disadvantage of pour-over wills is that the assets will pass through probate prior to going into the trust. In some cases, this means that the property will be in limbo for some time while the courts deal with it and could be used to repay your creditors prior to being transferred into your trust. In fact, the whole trust will be kept alive until the probate matter is finished. 


One mistake that some folks make is over-relying on their pour-over will to distribute unclaimed assets to the living trust. This can cause the entire process to bottleneck in the probate court. This can be avoided by diligently funding your trust as new assets become available.

What is a Pour-Over Will?

The bottom line is: A pour-over will provides a safety net to those with large-asset estates and allows them to move all assets not held in a trust into a trust at the time of their passing. It’s a remarkably useful estate planning tool.


If you have any more questions, The Herbert Law Office will go over your options with you and discuss whether a pour-over-will is appropriate for your circumstances. Call us today and we’ll be happy to address all of your estate planning needs. 


Request a
Free Consultation

What Our Clients Say

  • Steve and I enjoyed your professionalism, service, and care in making us feel like we were your VIP clients. We would love to recommend Herbert […]

    ~ Stephen & Margaret P., Mojave

    unum disability claims
  • Great experience. Marc explained everything and gave us all the time we needed to review the documents.

    ~ Kris and Sharron W., Tehachapi

    unum disability claims
  • Pleasant and good information. We felt comfortable through the difficult decisions and never felt pressured.

    ~ Floyd and Agee R., Ridgecrest

    unum disability claims
  • Marc and his staff put my mom’s trust on their top priority because she was hospitalized.

    ~ Louiese H., Palmdale

    unum disability claims
  • Very professional and approachable.

    ~ James and Cecelia M., Palmdale

    unum disability claims
  • Friendly and professional.

    ~ Tomas and Mary C., Lancaster

    unum disability claims
  • Very friendly and easy to work with.

    ~ Michael and Carole S., Acton

    unum disability claims
  • Very helpful, easy to understand. Felt very comfortable.

    ~ Judy W., Lancaster

    unum disability claims
  • (Marc) was very helpful and professional … patient answering all of our questions with cogent explanations.

    ~ Terry and Nancy L., Palmdale

    unum disability claims
  • Very pleasant and staff extremely helpful … open and honest.

    ~ Steve F., Quartz Hill

    unum disability claims
  • Excellent. Pleasant and well-informed …you educated us.

    ~ Raymond and Lori G., Santa Clarita

    unum disability claims
  • Explained everything well. Always available when our schedule changed. Easy to work with.

    ~ Mark and Suzanne F., Lancaster

    unum disability claims
  • Excellent. Easy process.

    ~ Michael and Susan R., Quartz Hill

    unum disability claims
  • Very efficient … (we appreciate) your attention to detail, ability to explain documents in “plain” English, good response time.

    ~ Thomas and Bonnie G., Tehachapi

    unum disability claims
  • We just kept putting it off. Thank you for your patience … (and) one-on-one personal contact.

    ~ Rex and Denise H., Acton

    unum disability claims
  • Very pleasant, patient and accommodating. Great listener … (the) Antelope Valley community should be proud of having such a caring and wonderful person like you, […]

    ~ Hovsep M. and Anna A., Palmdale

    unum disability claims
  • Excellent. Very professional, great attention to detail, seemed to really care … (and) answered all questions.

    ~ Daniel and Linda L., Ridgecrest

    unum disability claims
  • Personable, knowledgeable, explains well. Very happy with the courtesy and expertise in handling our Trust.

    ~ Anthony and Susan C., Lancaster

    unum disability claims
  • It was an easy experience for a hard thing to do. (Marc is) very easy to speak with and made everything easier to understand. We […]

    ~ Bruce and Christina Z., Tehachapi

    unum disability claims
  • (You) were always following up to make sure we had all we needed. Great service … provided a lot of information.

    ~ Carlos and Claudia O., Palmdale

    unum disability claims
  • Excellent. Very informative …friendly … (and) explained things clearly.

    ~ Robert and Joan W., Lancaster

    unum disability claims
  • Marc was great at understanding our needs and he and his staff are so responsive in providing what we need, how we need it … […]

    ~ James and Linda J., Palmdale

    unum disability claims
  • (We appreciate your) thoughtfulness, friendliness and fairness to walk us through the process and helping set up a Special Needs Trust

    ~ Dale and Meryl Z., Tehachapi

    unum disability claims
  • Friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We enjoyed working with Marc. He took time to explain and answer all and any questions … (You) did not rush […]

    ~ Keith and Susan I., Acton

    unum disability claims
  • Marc took his time explaining everything thoroughly to us and answered the many questions we asked. We have busy conflicting schedules, so at times we […]

    ~ Sharron K. and Bonnie M., Palmdale

    unum disability claims
  • Very professional staff … (Marc’s) first hand knowledge of the law (was very important)

    ~ Janet B., Lancaster

    unum disability claims
  • Excellent learning experience … (we appreciate your) expertise in the field.

    ~ Danny and Diane T., Ridgecrest

    unum disability claims
  • (My experience) was quite relaxing and worry-free … (Marc is) honest and answered any and all questions that I had leaving me with good feeling […]

    ~ James G., Lancaster

    unum disability claims
  • Excellent. Very professional and on the other hand very open, which made covering sensitive subjects a lot easier. (Marc is) easy to talk to.

    ~ Wilfred and Julia L., Palmdale

    unum disability claims
  • (Marc) was very patient with (me) … (and) anyone with assets and heirs (would benefit from his services).

    ~ Marcy W., Leona Valley

    unum disability claims
  • It is not fun to plan for one’s death, but you helped us be comfortable. You were very considerate to our needs, especially when it […]

    ~ John and Diane H., Palmdale

    unum disability claims
  • You and your staff were professional, helpful and patient … We took a long time getting everything together and you helped us and were patient […]

    ~ Jerry and Gloria V., Palmdale

    unum disability claims
  • Excellent. Very knowledgeable and helpful 🙂 … Your office was very helpful and persistent in keeping in contact with us during a very chaotic year. […]

    ~ Christopher and Naomi E., Temecula

    unum disability claims
  • We were in good hands with Marc’s expertise through every step. He was thorough. We didn’t feel rushed. We know that you are working for […]

    ~ Randy and Rebecca T., Lancaster

    unum disability claims
  • It was a well-paced comfortable experience

    ~ Richard and Clara H., Quartz Hill

    unum disability claims
  • Excellent. Professional and caring … (I liked) being able to contact you to answer my questions.

    ~ Dwight and Paula C., Palmdale

    unum disability claims
  • It was a pleasant and easy experience working with Marc …. Everyone who believes they and their family will “be alright” without a will and/or […]

    ~ Don and Michelle W., Lancaster

    unum disability claims
  • Marc is friendly and easy to talk to, very helpful. Marc explained everything clearly (and) patiently answered questions.

    ~ Evelyn G., Lancaster

    unum disability claims
  • Everyone is so patient with us and our situation. You’re easy to talk to and share personal stories that help (us) think through (our) own […]

    ~ Michael and Sharon W., Tehachapi

    unum disability claims