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Understanding pour-over wills

There are many reasons why a Minnesota resident with a trust-based estate plan may fail to place their assets into the trust during their lifetime. However, if there is no other will that dictates what should happen to the assets, the inclusion of a pour-over will can ensure that the assets are passed to the trust when the grantor dies.

A pour-over will does not oversee the distribution of all the estate owner's property. Instead, it is a will that states that any assets of an estate not funded into the trust when the grantor dies should be transferred to that trust. This legal device designates the trust as the beneficiary of any assets that are not already under its ownership and that are not slated to be transferred to a living beneficiary in some other way, such as via the beneficiary designation on a life insurance policy.

One of the main reasons individuals opt to use a living trust as part of their estate plans is that the assets placed in the trust are not required to undergo the probate process. However, for any assets that are not funded into the trust when the grantor dies, probate will be necessary whether or not the assets are to be passed directly to the trust according to a pour-over will.

If a person dies with no pour-over will, and there are no other wills referring to the assets, their assets will be distributed to their heirs in accordance to state laws. These intestate succession laws can vary from state to state.

An attorney with experience in probate law could help a client create an efficient estate plan. The lawyer may explain how certain legal devices can protect assets for future generations.

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