Close X

Tha Law Office of Mark Ruiz's Blog

The Essential Backup: Understanding the Need for Pour-Over Wills Despite Living Trusts

Posted by Mark Ruiz | Feb 26, 2024 | 0 Comments

As a California Estate Planning Attorney, I almost never create a Living Trust without creating a companion document known as a pour over will.  Many clients ask me something like..."why do I still need a will if I am hiring you to create a living trust?"  The purpose of this blog post is to answer that frequently asked question. Individuals often turn to living trusts as a cornerstone for efficient asset distribution. However, the importance of pour-over wills persists even when a living trust is in place. In this blog post, we will delve into the reasons why individuals continue to need pour-over wills alongside living trusts, highlighting their complementary roles and the added layer of protection they provide in the realm of estate planning.

  1. Assets Outside the Trust:

    • A living trust is a powerful tool for avoiding probate and ensuring a smooth transfer of assets. However, it's not uncommon for individuals to acquire new assets or forget to transfer certain assets into the trust during their lifetime.
    • A pour-over will serves as a safety net, capturing any assets that were not included in the living trust and directing them into the trust upon the individual's death.
  2. Guardianship Provisions:

    • For individuals with minor children, a pour-over will is essential for appointing guardianship in case both parents pass away simultaneously. While a living trust primarily deals with asset distribution, a pour-over will addresses the crucial issue of who will care for minor dependents.
  3. Handling Unforeseen Circumstances:

    • Life is dynamic, and circumstances can change. A pour-over will provides flexibility by allowing individuals to name beneficiaries for assets acquired after the creation of the living trust.
    • Without a pour-over will, these unforeseen assets might be subject to intestacy laws, potentially resulting in distributions that do not align with the individual's wishes.
  4. Probate Minimization:

    • While the primary purpose of a living trust is to avoid probate, a pour-over will serves as a secondary tool to minimize the probate process for any assets inadvertently left out of the trust.
    • This ensures that the estate settlement process remains as streamlined and efficient as possible.
  5. Privacy Concerns:

    • Living trusts provide a level of privacy by avoiding probate, but there may still be some information that becomes public record. A pour-over will can further enhance privacy by limiting the details disclosed in the probate process.
  6. Estate Plan Flexibility:

    • Life events such as marriages, divorces, births, and deaths can impact the dynamics of an estate. A pour-over will allows for easy updates and modifications to the estate plan, ensuring it remains current and reflective of the individual's wishes.

In short, pour-over wills serve as invaluable companions to living trusts. While living trusts offer a robust mechanism for asset distribution and probate avoidance, pour-over wills provide an essential safety net, addressing unforeseen circumstances and ensuring the comprehensive and seamless execution of an individual's final wishes. By combining the strengths of both legal instruments, individuals can create a resilient estate plan that adapts to life's changes and provides a comprehensive framework for their legacy.


This article is intended for general information purposes only.  Any legal analysis or other content should not be construed as legal or professional advice or substitute for such advice.  No attorney-client or confidential relationship is formed by transmission of information.  If you require legal or professional advice, please contact an attorney or other suitable professional advisor.  The choice of an attorney or other professional is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements and blog


About the Author

Mark Ruiz

Mark A. Ruiz Attorney/Owner Mark  primarily focuses on Business Law, Real Estate Law and Estate Planning.  He holds a Bachelors Degree from Santa Clara University with an emphasis in Business/Marketing and a Law Degree from the University of San Francisco with a Business Law Certificate.  He ...


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Our firm

Our firm specializes in helping businesses, individuals and families with all their legal needs. Our philosophy is centered around client responsiveness and taking a solution oriented approach to problems. We are here to serve you, so call us today!

Hablamos Español


The Law Offices of Mark Ruiz is committed to answering your questions about Wills & Trusts, Business Law and Real Estate Law issues in Redwood City and the Greater Sacramento area.

Contact us for a consultation and we’ll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.