Many high-net-worth people in California utilize trusts as part of their estate plans. One of the most popular ways of doing this is with a living trust. A living trust is designed to hold assets for your benefit as long as you’re alive. Upon your passing, the assets are meant to pass on to your designated beneficiaries. When they’re structured correctly, living trusts can help people avoid months or even years of wasted time in probate court. However, these trusts are not always properly funded.
Ensure that your assets are being held in trust
Remember, estate planning isn’t a one-time meeting at a lawyer’s office. It’s an ongoing process throughout your life. You need to revisit it with any major life changes, like marriage, divorce and childbirth. You’ll also need to actively manage your estate as part of your estate plan. That means taking actions like checking to ensure that assets have been transferred into your living trust.
There’s a simple way of doing this. If an asset is being held by the trust, the trust should be listed as the owner of the asset. For example, the deed to your home should list the trust as the owner as should most of your accounts with financial institutions. An exception might be a retirement plan like an IRA, which can remain in your name. The trust can be listed as a beneficiary though.
The importance of making sure your trust is funded
It’s important for you, as the person funding the trust, to take these steps yourself. In some cases, even your legal representative may not be able to do this for you. For example, many high-net-worth people own real estate in several states. Lawyers may only transfer the ownership information for properties in the state where they are licensed to practice. In any case, it is always a good idea to be informed about your holdings.