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Michigan Pour-Over Wills

estate planning

Our example couple, even though they have a living trust that contains all of their monetary assets, still need “pour-over wills” for those assets they hold outside of the trust. While the trust determines the distribution of the assets it contains, other assets, such as jewelry, family heirlooms, furniture, cars and antiques, need to have their distribution specified in a pour-over will.

Even with a living trust, if you do not have a “pour-over will,” Michigan law requires that probate proceedings take place. A pour-over will eliminates probate in that case, by “pouring” all of the descendant’s assets held outside of the trust into the trust upon death.

A “will” typically leaves most personal effects, motor vehicles and the like to the surviving spouse and then to their children. Instead, a pour-over will moves assets held by the decedent to the trust, which then follow the trust’s provisions. This takes advantage of the revocable nature of the trust and adds to its value. The trust’s existing distributions do not need to be altered, and the added assets will follow the rules already set up within the trust.

Wills can also impose conditions that may be beyond what a trust can demand. A will should be periodically reviewed to account for new possessions, the removal of old ones or any changes to the beneficiaries. The more current a will is, the less confusion there may be over its contents. Items left out of the will, or not specifically addressed, are the cause of much of the contention between survivors, and an up-to-date will may answer many questions.

The distribution of assets contained in the trust cannot be changed by a will. To change the trust beneficiaries, the trust itself must be amended.

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