You’ve just been handed your new living trust and estate plan package! It’s a very exciting moment, and you can’t wait to get home, put it into your fire-safe box, and watch the new show everyone’s talking about. But wait! There is one simple thing you have to do before you forget about it, and if you miss this step, it can wreck your careful planning, and potentially leave your heirs with unnecessary expenses and delays.
Funding your Trust
The simple thing is this: your trust needs to be funded. You might say, “my attorney took care of all that.” I’m sure he or she took good care to list all your appropriate assets in the trust schedule. But that is only the first half. The final (and very important) half is to change the legal title of the assets to the name of the trust. For example, the attorney should have transferred the real estate into your trust, like this: “John Smith and Sue Smith to John Smith and Sue Smith, trustees of the 2013 Smith Family Trust”.
The Commonly Missed Asset: Your Bank Account
Bank accounts have owners, and in order for your trust to govern those funds, that owner needs to be the trust. For some banks the process is of changing the title is very simple, others may take a few extra steps. You’ll need to bring a copy of your trust, or your trust certificate to your bank when you change the account. By taking this simple step you ensure that your bank funds and every other asset you put inside the trust will be governed by the plan you created in your trust.
It is easy to think that your attorney handles everything, but when it comes to completing your estate plan, it is vital that you complete the second half, and make sure that your assets, like bank accounts, have their legal title changed over to the trust. If you’re not sure what assets should be put inside the trust, refer to your trust schedule, or talk to the attorney who prepared your estate plan.