While creating a trust is a great strategy for managing your estate in
the event of your passing, unless your trust is "funded," it
will be of little value. Only trusts that are funded can keep your property
out of probate court and accomplish the many things they are designed
to do. To "fund" a trust simply means to transfer assets into
them by changing the titles on any accounts, property, or beneficiary
designations. An attorney can assist you with this process to ensure everything
fully complies with California state law. Your attorney can also create
a pour-over will that acts as a safety net in case you accidently leave
a property outside of your trust, though the probate process may apply.
Having a trust with you as the current trustee is called a "living
trust." A living trust will give you greater control than just having
a will or property in joint ownership. Living trusts enable you to buy,
sell, add, or remove assets as opposed to locking you into a "static"
document that is difficult to adjust. Another key benefit of living trusts
is the ability to leave an inheritance to your spouse without disinheriting
your children or grandchildren. This can be an especially important feature
when you have children from a previous marriage.
Funding a trust will involve some very specific legal paperwork and requires
you to survey your belongings as well as consider what you want included.
A good estate planning lawyer will be able to guide you through the entire
process. He or she can explain to you the legal details that will affect
whether you want to include or exclude particular assets. For example,
there are certain factors that go into the decision to either designate
an individual beneficiary to an insurance policy or make your trust the
actual beneficiary. You may also want to transfer bank accounts, contents
of a safety deposit box, certain kinds of stocks and bonds, life insurance
equity, and notes payable to your trust. IRAs and some other retirement
accounts, however, may be best excluded.
For assistance in both establishing and funding trusts in and around Orange
County, consider the services of
Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC. They have extensive experience in every aspect of estate planning and
can help you fulfill your last wishes without undue delay or extraneous
cost. To learn more, call
Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC at (714) 384-6053 or
fill out their online contact form.