Practical Estate Planning Tips Series 2 of 10

Tip #2 - Fund Your Trust! What does this mean in non-legal ease -  put your stuff into the name of your trust.

When I meet with a client initially I discuss this, when we sign the trust we discuss this and I provide all the documentation to actually do it. I send letters and emails telling them to fund the trust. I make phone calls telling them to fund their trust and in my advertising I tell everyone to fund their trust.

What happens? Clients go on with life and don't fully fund their trust!!  Why, because they acquire other property and forget about the trust, or they refinance and their property comes out of the trust with out them really knowing, or life happens and they just don't take the time to get it properly titled.

Basically here it is in short, if you have people as beneficiaries of your trust (children, grandchildren, friends, etc.) (and not entities such as a charity), then everything should either be titled in your trust, or the trust should be the beneficiary or pay on death beneficiary.  Once that is done then just be sure that your trustees and trust beneficiaries are correct.  If you want your oldest son to have your Fidelity account, then state that in the trust.

Conversely, if you name your oldest son as the beneficiary of the Fidelity account on a beneficiary designation form with Fidelity (and not in your trust), the gift could be opened up to problems such as: 1) what if he is deceased, did you name a correct contingent beneficiary; 2) you lose control over the distribution in situations of disability, divorce, bankruptcy, etc., 3) and I could go on.

Again, and I'm talking to you, FUND YOUR TRUST!

People, and this means you, GET YOUR ASSETS PROPERLY TIED TO YOUR TRUST. There are some exceptions (retirement assets) but most assets should be tied to your trust. Your house should be deeded to your trust. Your banks and investment accounts should actually be held in the name of the trust in the financial institution’s records.


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