If you already have a revocable living trust, then this article is for you. Can you trust that it will work when you and your family need it the most? Will you really avoid a conservatorship or a probate and the costs and delay that come with these drawn out court processes?
This may surprise you, but without hesitation I can tell you: most estate plans are in grave danger of failing.
Why do I say that?
There are many reasons actually, but what I see the most often is that people have not changed the title of all their assets, including real property, bank accounts, stocks & business interests, into the name of the trust. This is called “funding” the trust. Your trust will not work unless it is funded.
To make sure your trust remains properly funded, to avoid probate and to ensure your plan works the way it was intended, it is a good idea to review the titles to your assets at least once a year.
Questions to consider are:
- Did you buy any real estate, stocks, bonds or other investments during this past year and, if so, is the asset titled in the name of your Living Trust? (Refer to your Living Trust Identification Card or your trust document for the correct legal name).
- Have you acquired any other assets with “title certificates,” and are the titles in your name as Trustee?
- Did you purchase any life insurance or annuities? If so, are the beneficiaries properly designated? (Please call us if you are unsure).
Common Funding Errors to Avoid:
- Assets are not transferred into the name of the trust
- Assets that were purchased after the creation of the trust are not transferred
- Assets “drift out” of the trust (i.e. during a refinance)
Funding Services That Make Us Unique.
We walk each of our clients step-by-step through the transfer process so that they know how to transfer title to their assets into their trust. We prepare the deeds to transfer California real estate to the trust, coordinate deed preparation for out-of-state properties, and coordinate with your Financial Planner and CPA throughout the process. We give clients a Funding Toolkit and then offer as much guidance as needed to make sure that they get their assets properly titled into their Trust.
We also offer our Wealth Plan where we do it all. Some busy families want the least amount of personal effort and the greatest amount of convenience and care. We will prepare an asset spreadsheet confirming what is owned and how title is held and then complete all of the forms and requests necessary to transfer every asset and designate every beneficiary for the maximum protection of their family and their assets. This asset spreadsheet is invaluable, as it can be updated over time. It is also a helpful tool for families in a time of crisis—so they can easily navigate their loved ones financial and legal affairs, knowing exactly what assets are owned and where they are located.