Pour-Over Wills

A “pour-over will” is a type of will that is commonly used in conjunction with a revocable living trust. In California, as in many other states, a pour-over will is a legal document that directs the disposition of any assets that were not transferred to the trust during the grantor’s lifetime. As a Folsom attorney who is specialized in estate planning, pour-over wills are a common part of my estate planning package for clients for who I am preparing a living trust for. The primary purpose of a pour-over will is to ensure that any assets left out of the trust are ultimately included and distributed according to the terms of the trust upon the grantor’s death.

Here are key points about pour-over wills in California:

  1. Complementary to a Revocable Living Trust: A pour-over will typically works in tandem with a revocable living trust, which is a legal entity established during the grantor’s lifetime to hold and manage assets. The trust designates beneficiaries and outlines how assets should be distributed.
  2. Asset Transfer: During the grantor’s lifetime, they typically transfer assets into the revocable living trust. However, it’s not uncommon for some assets to be inadvertently left out or acquired after the trust is established. While this is rare, some clients forget to put, for example, a bank account in the name of a living trust or an investment account in the name of the living trust. In such a case, that asset is no longer “funded” into the living trust and therefore would be subject to probate upon the client’s passing; something that the living trust is meant to avoid. Similarly, a client may purchase a second home after their living trust is prepared and forget to deed the property to their living trust. The pour-over will “pours over” or directs these assets into the trust upon the grantor’s death.
  3. Probate: Even though a pour-over will is used in conjunction with a trust, it may still need to go through the probate process in California if the total value of assets subject to probate (those not held in the trust) exceeds a certain threshold ($184,500 as of 2023). Probate is the court-supervised process of validating the will and overseeing the distribution of assets.
  4. Executor: The pour-over will typically names an executor, who is responsible for managing the probate process and ensuring that assets are transferred to the trust as directed in the will. This person is also referred to as a personal representative in California.
  5. Distributions: The pour-over will should specify how the assets transferred to the trust are to be distributed. This is typically in accordance with the terms and provisions of the revocable living trust.
  6. Privacy and Efficiency: One of the advantages of using a revocable living trust and a pour-over will is that it allows for the private and efficient transfer of assets to beneficiaries outside of the probate process. This can be particularly beneficial for those who wish to maintain privacy and avoid the delays and costs associated with probate.


A well-structured estate plan in California may include a revocable living trust with a pour-over will to provide flexibility, asset management, and efficient distribution of assets. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney in Folsom can help you tailor your plan to meet your specific needs and ensure that your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes. If you have any questions about pour-over wills or the estate planning process in general, please contact Thapar Law at 916-579-0605 or send us a message.

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