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Probate administration: Adding pour-over assets to a trust

One of the appeals of a trust-based estate plan is that it allows the assets funded in the trust to avoid probate. A drawback of a revocable trust is that people often forget to fund all of their important assets to the trust. When this happens, those assets not funded must go through probate administration.

This consequence may not be a serious one unless the grantor had specific beneficiaries in mind to receive (or not receive) those assets. The omission of those assets from the trust means that probate court will likely order them distributed to whomever the laws of Oklahoma dictate are the legal heirs. This is usually the closest blood relatives. However, a person who establishes a trust -- instead of writing a will or simply leaving his or her belongings for probate to decide -- typically has strong reasons for doing so.

To ensure that no assets are left to be distributed according to the laws of intestacy, grantors may add a pour-over will to their estate plans. A pour-over will names the grantor's revocable trust as the beneficiary of any assets not specifically named in the trust. After probate, those assets are added to the trust to be distributed according to its instructions. Life insurance policies and other assets with beneficiary designations typically pass directly to the beneficiary without the need for probate.

People in Oklahoma who are contemplating revocable trusts may also consider pour-over wills in case they are not able to review and revise their trusts as often as necessary. In addition, there may be other estate planning tools that would allow them to avoid leaving probate administration and tax burdens for their heirs. Consulting an estate planning attorney for advice will provide them with answers to their questions.

Source: thebalance.com, "When Do You Need a Pour-Over Will?", Julie Garber, Accessed on May 26, 2017

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