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Don’t Just Go Halfway: Understanding Pour-Over Wills in Arizona

by | Apr 26, 2024 | Arizona Estate Planning, Pour-Over Will, Will

Imagine you’ve meticulously planned your dream vacation to Italy. Flights booked, itinerary crafted, reservations secured – you’re ready for an unforgettable adventure. But hold on – there’s a catch. You only have a ticket for one leg of the journey. Estate planning can feel similar. A revocable living trust is a crucial first step, but for a truly comprehensive plan in Arizona, you need a “pour-over will” to bridge the gap and ensure your wishes are fulfilled.


What is a Pour-Over Will?

Think of a pour-over will as a safety net for your estate plan. It’s a legal document that works alongside your revocable living trust.  A revocable living trust allows you to designate someone to manage your assets while you’re alive and distribute them according to your wishes after you’re gone. The key benefit? Assets held within the trust typically avoid probate, an often lengthy and public court process.

But what happens if you acquire assets after creating the trust and neglect to transfer them in? This is where the pour-over will comes in. It acts as a safety net, instructing the court to “pour over” any assets outside the trust into it.  This ensures those assets still benefit from the trust’s provisions, like following your distribution wishes included in the trust.


Pour-Over Will vs. Regular Will

While both wills outline your wishes for asset distribution, they serve distinct purposes:

  • Traditional Will: This is a standalone document that dictates how your probate assets (those not held in a trust) will be distributed after your passing. It goes through probate, which can be time-consuming and incur court fees.
  • Pour-Over Will: This works in conjunction with a revocable living trust. It doesn’t directly distribute assets but instead directs the court to transfer any unfunded assets into the trust, where they can then be distributed according to the terms of the trust.


The Takeaway: Don’t Leave Your Estate Planning to Chance

You’ve likely worked hard to build a secure future for yourself and your family.  A pour-over will, alongside a revocable living trust, ensures your assets are managed efficiently and distributed according to your wishes. It’s a small investment that can save your loved ones significant time and stress during a difficult time. Every estate is unique. Consulting with our experienced Arizona estate planning attorneys is the best way to determine if your estate plan covers all the bases. We can guide you through the process, tailor a plan to your specific needs, and ensure your wishes are clearly documented.