What is a pour-over will?

A pour-over will differs from other wills in that its main beneficiary is the grantor’s living trust. This type of will “pours,” or transfers, assets into the trust in order to make certain that they will be distributed according to the instructions stated in the trust. It applies only to probate assets, which are assets that are not mentioned in a trust, are not in joint tenancy, do not pass to a surviving spouse and are not contained in an IRA or 401(k).

Generally, title to probate assets is held in the name of the grantor only. However, an IRA or 401(k) for which the grantor did not designate a beneficiary can also go through probate. Whether a pour-over will is required to go through probate is dependent on the value of the probate assets that are governed by the will. If the probate assets are valued at an amount in excess of $150,000, then probate is required. However, if they amount to $150,000 or less, then the property can be transferred to the trust with the use of declarations under California Probate Code §13100.

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