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I know, it’s tempting to proudly display your beautiful new trust package on your coffee table, and show it off to all your friends.  Before you do, take the time to check these five items off your list:

First: Fund It

Trusts are like cars, the have to be fueled to run properly.  You fuel a trust by titling your assets in your trust.  All your non-tax deferred accounts, real estate and other assets should be transferred into your trust.  For your tax deferred accounts, and life insurance policies, be sure to check with your attorney before transferring these assets.

Second: Secure It

You’d be surprised, or maybe you wouldn’t be at how many people I’ve talked to that had to search for their estate planning documents.  I’ve even had to help clients who couldn’t find their estate planning documents.  Pick a safe spot in your home (a fireproof safe is a good idea) and store the original documents there.  Make sure your successor trustee knows where the documents are, and how to get to them.

Third: Share Your Power of Attorney & Advance Health Care Directive

These documents aren’t designed to sit in your binder, they need to go where they’ll actually do you some good.  The top places for these documents are your bank for the Power of Attorney, and your doctor’s office for your Advance Health Care Directive.  Next, give a copy of these documents to whoever would be agent after your spouse.  They’ll need a copy if they need to act on your behalf.

 Fourth: Double Check Your Beneficiary Designations

Wills and trusts don’t override beneficiary designations for your retirement and life insurance policies.  Because these accounts can make up a significant portion of your estate, don’t hesitate to seek advice on these important documents. 

Fifth: Enjoy Peace of Mind

With all of that done, take a deep breath of satisfaction and relax.

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