You have probably heard the concepts of a will, a pour-over will, and a living will. These terms are not interchangeable and each document serves a different purpose in your estate plan.
A standalone will, the simplest of estate planning tools, generally just tells the probate court judge “who gets what” and appoints guardians for your minor children. Your will can also express your preferences regarding the dispositions of your remains, i.e., cremation or burial.
However, a will alone does not provide sufficient opportunities for planning and will not protect your estate from probate.
The only way to ensure your beneficiaries will receive their inheritance without having to deal with the arduous probate process is to establish a living trust. A pour-over will is a will included in a trust-based estate plan that serves to appoint guardians for your minor children and ensure any assets not titled in the name of your trust during your lifetime will go into the trust upon your death.
A living will, on the other hand, deals only with the issue of life support in a vegetative state. A living will directs your physicians to cease artificial life support measures if you are terminally ill with no chance of recovery.