Fund Your Living Trust

I can say this every day and it may still not be enough.

Make sure you fund your living trust.

This means transferring title of your real property, bank accounts, investment accounts and business to your living trust. One of the main reasons you created your living trust was to avoid probate. You may have the best living trust in the world, but if your assets have not been transferred to it, your estate may have to go through probate.

My suggestion:

1. Review your property tax bill to confirm the title to your house or other real properties is in your living trust.

2. Review your bank and investment account statements to confirm the title of those accounts is in your living trust.

3. If you own a business, your business interest (sole propriatorship, corporation, LLC, etc) should be assigned to your living trust.

4. We recommend you name your living trust as the primary, or at least the secondary, beneficiary of your life insurance policies. Contact your life insurance company to confirm your beneficiaries.

5. Review the beneficiaries of your retirement plans (IRAs, 401ks, etc). In most cases, you will want to name your spouse as primary beneficiary and your children or living trust as secondary beneficiary.

It’s worth the time to do this.


Is Your Living Trust Funded?

Although most families have not done their estate planning, many have, and many have established living trusts. The objectives in establishing a living trust are to avoid the high costs and hassles of a California probate and to provide an easy administration of the estate assets. Living trusts are great and will accomplish these objectives – if they are maintained.

Your estate will still go through probate, even if you have a living trust, if you have not transferred your assets to your living trust. We tell our clients to consider their living trust like a container. The trust will only control the assets that have been transferred to the container. If when you die, you left significant assets (real property, bank and investment accounts) outside the container, your loved ones may have to take your estate through probate. Probate is unwelcome to most families because it is expensive and generally takes at least a year in court.

Ask yourself these questions to confirm your assets are in your living trust. [Read more...]