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Why a pour-over will may be important in an estate plan

Some people in Florida who have created an estate plan that is primarily based on a living trust might also want to make a pour-over will. The advantage of a pour-over will is that it can ensure that any assets not placed in the trust or passing through other means, such as a beneficiary designation, will become part of the trust when the person dies.

A pour-over will is intended to act as a safeguard. It is better to review an estate plan annually or when there are major changes to the family, to tax law or to assets in order to ensure that all the assets that should be in the trust have been placed there. One disadvantage of a pour-over will is that it must still go through probate. This is not the case for assets placed directly in a trust.

If a person does not have a pour-over will or a will that designates what will happen to assets not placed in the trust, those assets may be distributed according to state law. The result could be family members receiving assets they were not intended to have.

People who do not have a trust as part of an estate plan might want to discuss their advantages with an attorney. A trust may be useful to control how assets are distributed to a beneficiary who may be irresponsible with an inheritance or to a relative with special needs. A person can specify when distributions are made or set up the trust so that the trustee manages when distributions happen. There are a number of other complex ways to set up trusts to reduce estate tax or provide charitable contributions. In some cases, an irrevocable trust may be used to protect assets against creditors.

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