Estate owners in Georgia use trusts for a variety of reasons. Trusts can make the transfer of property easier and less complicated, prevent probate issues and specify instructions for property administration after the death or disability of the grantor.

After a trust has been created, however, the grantor could acquire additional property. Sometimes, the grantor will forget to place this subsequent property under trust. If this is the case, assets may not be administered in the manner intended. Instead, they’ll be administered following the intestate succession laws of the state. These laws are often contrary to the instructions of trusts.

This is why every estate plan involving a trust should include a pour-over will. This document is simply a will that transfers all property of the decedent to the trustee of the inter vivos trust created earlier. It is meant to cover those situations when the trust grantor forgot to include certain assets in a trust and for after-acquired property. A pour-over will provision can provide peace of mind for a trust owner that a safety net is in place.

There are two caveats regarding a pour-over will. First, the will is subject to probate and the trustee will need to go to court for it to be effective. Second, if there is property the grantor does not wish to be in the trust, such as retirement benefits, the pour-over will should specifically exclude these items.

For lawyers, a large part of estate planning is anticipating future events and covering contingencies. Sometimes, these contingencies involve inadvertent mistakes of the client. For these reasons, safety net documents should be discussed with the estate planning attorney. In addition, the client should be willing to meet with their attorney every few years to periodically review the estate plan.