Understanding Pour-Over Wills

Law Office of Geoffrey Fong April 7, 2023

Pour Over Will word represented by wooden letter Estate planning is a key part of planning for the future. However, many Americans don’t take it seriously. According to a recent study by the Caring website, two out of three Americans still don't have a will. Aside from setting up a typical last will and testament, individuals can set up something called a pour-over will. These types of documents can be effective in helping you and your family achieve peace of mind.  

The Law Office of Geoffrey Fong offers legal counsel and support to those seeking to understand the process surrounding pour-over wills and estate planning in general. The firm is ready to assist individuals and families in Rocklin, California, and surrounding areas, including Roseville, Folson, and Citrus Heights. Set up a consultation with an estate planning attorney today. 

What Is a Pour-Over Will?  

A pour-over will is a will that states that any assets that are in the will after an individual dies must be transferred into a living trust. This includes any property and assets not currently in the living trust. Everything from their will is "poured over" into their trust. Whoever the beneficiary is for their trust will now have access to the assets. The pour-over will and the trust work in conjunction with each other.   

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

Many things can happen when individuals don't have pour-over wills set up. After they pass, whatever estate planning was set up before their passing goes into play. Ideally, everything would have been set up in the trust, and the trust handles the distribution of the assets. Still, individuals may wonder what happens to assets outside of a trust. If assets are not within the trust, then those assets are handled by probate, which is a lengthy process that makes the state responsible for determining who inherits the assets.   

Pros& Cons of a Pour-Over Will  

There are plenty of advantages—and some disadvantages—to implementing a pour-over will. It’s vital to work with an estate planning attorney who will consider your unique needs. 


  • Security – During those last few years of life, individuals may find it hard to transfer all their assets to their living trust. In this case, a pour-over will make it easy to have that sense of security that your beneficiaries will have access to your assets in the living trust. 

  • Privacy – Because a pour-over will transfer all of the assets onto the trust, they are not accessible by the public, like typical wills are.   


  • Lengthy process – Because of the property taxes that must be paid for the assets in a pour-over will, it can be some time before the beneficiary sees the assets.   

  • Property taxes – The property taxes of any property in the pour-over will have to go through probate, which means that the state needs to prove that it is a valid document.   

What Are the Duties of the Executor/Trustee in a Pour-Over Will?  

An executor in a pour-over will is the person assigned to transfer assets through your pour-over will to your living trust. At that point, the assets become the trustee’s responsibility. The trustee should distribute the trust assets by following the terms of the trust document. 

Understand Your Estate Planning Options  

No one should have to go through the complex estate planning process alone. If you are finalizing your will or want more information about a pour-over will, contact the Law Office of Geoffrey Fong for guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney. Born and raised in California, Geoffrey Fong strives to support the community of Rocklin and the surrounding areas—including Roseville, Folson, and Citrus Heights—in all of their estate planning needs.