Notary Public in Office Signing Document

Understanding Pour-Over Wills

Law Office of Rodney Gould March 22, 2023

According to the 2022 Wills and Estate Planning Study by, only about 33.1% of American adults have a will or estate plan. During estate planning, many individuals often prefer to have their assets and property covered under the terms and provisions of a single document. Pour-over wills are useful estate planning tools that work in conjunction with living trusts to ensure that assets not included in your trust are transferred to the trust upon your death. 

Attorney Rodney Gould is here to give knowledgeable guidance and advocacy to clients in estate-planning-related matters. As a trusted California estate planning attorney, Rodney is available to discuss your matters and enlighten you about how pour-over wills work, the benefits and downsides, and how to create one. The firm proudly serves clients throughout Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood, California. 

What Is a Pour-Over Will?  

A pour-over will can be described as a legal document that ensures that all of a person's remaining property and assets are automatically transferred into a previously drafted revocable living trust upon their death. When used together with a living trust, all property included in the pour-over will would be poured or transferred into the trust. All trust property would then be distributed to named beneficiaries. 

What Happens If I Don't Have a Pour-Over Will?  

Furthermore, a pour-over will works like a safety net or backup plan that ensures that assets not moved into the living trust will be eventually transferred into the trust after your death. If you have a simple will but not a pour-over will, your assets will be distributed according to the terms of the will. 

However, any asset not included in the will – when there is no pour-over will – would be treated as if the person died intestate. Hence, those assets would be distributed to heirs using California's intestate succession laws. 

Pros and Cons of a Pour-Over Will  

Here are some benefits and drawbacks of pour-over wills: 


  • The estate plan is controlled by a single document – the living trust. Thus, making it simpler. 

  • The pour-over will can take care of any assets not transferred into your trust prior to your demise. 

  • It helps keep your affairs and details about estate administration private. 

  • It ensures that there are no leftovers or loose ends in your estate planning


  • All property included in the pour-over will must go through probate. 

  • Due to probate proceedings, transferring assets in the pour-over will to beneficiaries can take longer. 

A knowledgeable California wills and trusts attorney can help determine whether a pour-over will is right for you and guide you through the legal procedures involved in drafting the document. 

The Duties of the Executor/Trustee  

Additionally, the testator must name a trusted person to serve as an executor of the estate. Once appointed, the executor will move all assets and property that are in the pour-over will into the living trust. However, unless the estate qualifies as a small estate in California for a simplified probate, all assets in the pour-over will must still pass through probate before they can be moved into the trust. 

Turn to Rodney Gould for Guidance 

Creating a trust helps preserve and protect your assets, provide tax benefits, and allow your asset to bypass the probate process. However, in the event that you forget to transfer any asset into the trust, a pour-over will can ensure that such assets are moved into the trust after your death. An experienced estate planning attorney can inform you about the benefits and downsides and help you make informed decisions. 

Attorney Rodney Gould has the diligence and expertise to advise and guide clients through the complex procedures involved in drafting pour-over wills. As your legal counsel, he can explore your different options regarding estate planning and help you draft a valid pour-over will. Above all, Attorney Rodney Gould will work to address your various needs and concerns and help you achieve your goals of transferring your accumulated assets to loved ones. 

Contact the Law Office of Rodney Gould today to arrange a consultation with a practiced estate planning lawyer. Attorney Rodney Gould has provided legal services to some of the nation’s largest companies such as Starbucks, MCI, USAA, and Bank of America, so reach out today for reliable representation. The firm proudly serves clients throughout Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood, California.