Include a pour-over will to supplement a trust

A revocable trust offers many advantages. One of the most attractive features of a living trust is that having one could help a person's family avoid probate. As long as assets are transferred to the trust, they may pass directly to beneficiaries without having to go through a lengthy probate process. Unfortunately, there's always a possibility that a Minnesota senior will acquire property they don't get a chance to transfer to their trust before they die.

Without adding a pour-over will to the estate planning process, any assets that are not funded into the trust could be passed to heirs according to the current state probate rules for intestate succession. Bank accounts, life insurance policies and retirement savings plans may be excluded from probate if a beneficiary designation is in place. Because intestate succession is based on a formula and not the deceased person's wishes, property could be passed to an unintended relative.

An effective way to avoid this is to have a pour-over will in addition to the revocable trust. This document simply states that any property that isn't in the trust should be transferred there. Although that property may have to go through probate, it could help a person who is determined to prevent one or more of their heirs from being beneficiaries of their estate or who would like to give their property to people who are not related to them.

Those who use a trust as the main element of their estate plan should review it annually. Any new assets should be transferred to avoid intestate succession. State laws may change, so it's important to work with an experienced attorney who focuses on estate planning to get the latest information. A revocable trust can be changed as long as the grantor is alive and mentally competent. However, assets cannot be added to the trust later without a pour-over will.

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