Once you have a trust, its very tempting to heave a sigh of relief, put the trust binder on a shelf and forget about it. Here are three things you can do to make sure that trust you’ve created will work the way you and your attorney intend.
1. Fund It
Trusts are a great way to avoid the cost and time of probate, but your assets must be in the trust for the trust to actually work! I have had to help heirs go to court and petition for an order to place a house into a trust. That was an expense the trust creator could have saved them by making sure the property was titled in the trust with a trust transfer deed. The recording costs is typically less than $25 versus hours of court time. Make sure you put your assets like your real property and financial accounts into the trust!
2. Make Sure Your Heirs Can Find the Trust
It seems rather basic, but will your heirs be able to find your actual trust? Keeping your trust and will in a safe place can be keeping your trust in a place where your heirs know where it is, and can access it can be trickier than you may think. A bank vault is actually bad place because the documents authorizing your successor trustee to access the bank vault are inside the bank vault. Much better is a fire safe. Also, if you have written someone out of your estate, make sure they aren’t the one guarding the original documents.
3. Update When Your Family Changes
Time passes and people change, laws change, and sometimes you change your mind. As estate planners we try to anticipate and plan for change. Not all changes can be planned for however, and when those changes occur you’ll need to update your plan. That is why you have a living revocable trust – you can change it when your life circumstances change.
Editors Note: This post was originally published April 2013 and has been updated for accuracy.
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