The Pour Over Will is a critical element to any estate plan. It is a legal document that allows you to designate where all of your personal belongings will go after you pass away but, sometimes more important than that is the ability of the Will to transfer your assets to your trust should you have neglected to do so during your lifetime. Perhaps the most important function of the Will, however, is the ability to be able to designate who the guardian of your minor children will be when you pass away.
The Will works in conjunction with the revocable living trust, and while the goal is to transfer as many assets as possible to the revocable living trust, that doesn't always occur. As a result, the Will acts as a safety net for those assets that are left out of trust and in California, the Will can transfer up to $50,000 in real estate and up to $150,000 in combined assets (including real estate and bank accounts) to the trust even after the person has passed away. In many cases, this has allowed us to avoid probate and ensure everything smoothly transitions to the loved ones of the deceased individual without much hassle.
For those of you who have minor children, the Will may be the most important document in your entire estate plan, because it's where you will nominate who the guardian of your children would be in the event that you passed away and left behind your minor child or children. It is extremely important that you do this for yourself and for your minor children because if you don't set up a plan, the government will set one up for you – through a guardianship proceeding. It is typically our experience that clients would much rather take part in selecting potential guardians over their minor children as opposed to leaving it up to the court to decide. The idea of appointing a guardian is never an easy or a enjoyable topic to discuss with clients, but it is a necessary conversation to have and we encourage you to think about your own situation and take control of your and your children's future by appointing a guardian as soon as possible through a Will.
The Will serves multiple functions and certain functions are more important to some clients than others. In any case, whether you need to designate where personal belongings will go, appoint a potential guardian over a minor child, or have a living trust in place, the Will is the way to do it. Our office would be happy to assist you in creating a Will and if you have any questions about the Will or other estate planning documents, please call one of our experienced estate planning attorneys at (714) 459-5481. The attorneys at the Law Office of James F. Roberts & Associates are here to serve you.