Protect Your Assets With A Living Trust
Living trusts are one of most commonly used estate planning tools today!
Make It A Priority To Set Up A Living Trust To Protect Your Assets
Living trusts are one of most commonly used estate planning tools today with good reason.
There is no better time than the present to set up a living trust. A living trust is a plan to take care of the people you love when you’re no longer around or lack capacity to assist them. Not only can a trust simplify the process of asset distribution, it can also help you leave a lasting financial legacy. It ensure that you address all aspects of the administration of your estate and even health issues in the event of an emergency. It is the most flexible estate planning option available. We suggest you work with an experienced trust lawyer to set one up.
What Is a Trust?
In its simplest form, a trust is the designation of a person or corporation to act as a trustee to deal with the trust property and administer that property in accordance with the instructions in the trust document. The person who creates the trust is known as the “grantor,” “settlor,” or “trustor.” The persons who receive income or other distributions from the trust are the “beneficiaries.” A trust, in essence, creates a duty for the person designated as trustee to hold and manage the trust property for the benefit of the beneficiaries as named in the trust document.
There are a variety of reasons that you might wish to use a trust as part of your estate plan, such as: (a) privacy; (b) avoiding probate; (c) providing for an individual with a disability; (d) providing for an individual who cannot be trusted with a lump sum inheritance (e) providing for minor children; and (f) avoiding or reducing estate taxes.
It is important to take great care and caution in setting up a living trust. You must be sure to include certain language in the living trust document, such as terms that protect you in the event of mental illness.
List your assets and decide which you’ll include in the trust
1. Bank accounts
2. Real estate property
3. Insurance policies
4. Stocks, bonds, and other investment assets
5. Tangible personal property
6. Limited liability company (LLCs)
You will need all of the titles and deeds of property, stock certificates, and bank account statements in order to “fund the trust,” that is, to transfer the property into the trust, discussed more fully below. Gather them now and have them ready so the process can go more smoothly and quickly.
Choose a Successor Trustee
The successor trustee is the person who will be in charge of paying debts and distributing your assets according to your wishes upon your death. Moreover, if you become incapacitated, your successor trustee would handle your affairs for anything owned by the trust.
The trustee should be someone who understands your intentions for trust property and how to maximize the value of assets in trusts. He or she will be charged with the task of protecting trust assets from creditors and maximizing any interest gained from investments in the trust.
Naming the Trust’s Beneficiaries
You should also be very clear about naming designated beneficiaries for your trust. If you do not include the full name of a beneficiary, then there may be a contest to the disbursement of your assets upon your death.
A trust lawyer can help you draft a trust document and include terms that are as clear as possible. He or she will include complete information about your beneficiaries within the trust so that there is no issue as to who should receive assets upon your death.
Including a Residual Clause in the Trust
A residual clause must also be included in a trust that is created for your assets. A residual clause will direct the trustee on how to manage assets that are left over after all debts, taxes and distributions have been paid. You may wish to give the rest of your funds to a charity that interests you or to start a scholarship fund with any remaining assets. It is vital to include a residual clause in the trust, because you may receive an inheritance from another individual that adds extra funds to your entire estate. There could be issues with your living trust if you fail to include a residual clause.
Your estate may have to go through probate to distribute any extra assets that you receive from another inheritance. This could cause administrative fees to be taken from your estate, so it is important to always include a residual clause. Your estate could even be forced to pay more administrative fees than the worth of the assets that are received from another inheritance. A trust lawyer can help you understand the function of a residual clause and how to create a clause that reflects your genuine intent.
Signing Your Trust Document in Front of a Notary
To create a valid living trust, you must sign the trust document. In most places, a living trust document, unlike a will, does not need to be signed in front of witnesses. But you do need to sign your living trust document in front of a notary public for your state. If you create a shared living trust, both of you need to sign the trust document in front of the notary. If anyone challenges the authenticity of your signature after your death, the notarization will serve as evidence that it is genuine. And some institutions (stock brokerage houses, for example) may require that the signature be notarized before they will transfer assets into your name as trustee.
Changing Your Trust
If you think that you will ever change your trust in the future, then it is smart to work with a trust lawyer. You can simply call your trust lawyer to arrange a meeting to add an amendment to your trust or to completely transfer your assets to a new trust instrument. A lawyer will ensure that any changes made to your trust are done in a legal and professional manner.
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