Traditional & Pour-over Wills
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that provides instructions for the distribution of your assets upon death.
The primary functions of a Will:
(1) Nominates someone to act as your Personal Representative.
(2) Names general and specific gifts.
(3) Provide instructions for your final remains.
(4) Nominates a Guardian for any minor children or dependants.
(5) If you have a Trust, your Will can move assets into your Trust.
What is a "Personal Representative?"
A Personal Representative oversees the administration of your estate after your death—specifically, those portions of your estate that are not in a Trust. Property not in a Trust must go through Probate court before beneficiaries can inherit it.
Probate is a court-controlled process for distributing the property of a deceased person. In Missouri, the fees associated with probate are set by law and based on the estate's size. A Personal Representative would be responsible for hiring an attorney to handle this process. However, property in a Trust is not subject to probate. Additionally, probate is almost always more expensive than having a Trust formed (even for small estates). Because of the cost, time, and hurdles involved, we frequently advise clients to consider a Trust to avoid or minimize their exposure to probate.
Who should I appoint as my Personal Representative?
Individuals can name a person, an institution (e.g., a bank or trust company), or both. We typically advise clients to select a family member or someone they trust that is capable and responsible. Likewise, it is advisable to include a few backup Personal Representatives if your first choice is unavailable.
What is a "Pour-over Will?"
You use a Pour-over Will when your Estate Plan includes a Trust. Pour-over Wills and Trusts work in a complementary fashion. When you pass away, if there are assets you have forgotten to move into your Trust, a Pour-over Will directs those assets to be transferred into your Trust.