Estate Planning Lawyer
Regardless of how much money your estate is worth, it is important that you plan ahead so you know what will happen to your assets upon your death or incapacitation. A living trust can provide you with peace of mind in knowing that your beneficiaries will be provided for, and that your wishes are carried out as you want them to be. When a living trust is correctly drafted, it also skips the probate process and assure a speedy distribution of your property and financial wealth. Large, unnecessary taxes can be avoided as well. Finally, unlike a will which is made public, a living trust is kept private.
A trust could be the most important documents you will ever create. This is not a process to rush, nor is it a DIY job.
Tasks to Complete Before You Draft a Trust
Create a Detailed List of Your Assets
Take time to go through all of your assets and make a list of them as you go. Assets include tangible and intangible items such as houses, art, jewelry, bonds, and life insurance policies. A list will give you and a top trust lawyer Phoenix, AZ offers a clear idea of the size and value of your estate.
Gather Any Paperwork Related to Your Assets
If you have paperwork for your assets, such as titles, certifications, policies, and so forth, you should locate them and place them in a folder to hand over to your trust lawyer. These documents will make the process go smoother.
Decide Who to Name in a Trust
When you create your trust, you will have to name beneficiaries. These are the people who will receive your assets after you die. Beneficiaries can be anyone including children, a spouse, family members, friends, charities, government organizations, and more. If there are people you explicitly do not want to be included in the trust, you may want to name them as well and let your trust lawyer know just in case any dispute arises.
Bare in mind if you named a beneficiary on bank accounts, insurance policies, or other accounts, it may conflict with your trust, particularly if the names do not match up. You should discuss these matter with your trust lawyer to prevent legal arguments after your death.
Name a Successor Trustee
In a living trust, you will be the trustee, but after you die a successor trustee must take over. This person will be responsible for paying off your debts, distributing your assets, and managing the trust. They will also be in charge of the trust should you become incapacitated. You should ensure the successor trustee is honest and responsible.
Name a Guardian
You cannot name a guardian in a living trust, but you can create a pour-over will which includes this information. This is especially important if you have minor children or a child who is disabled.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into estate planning and trusts.