10 things you should know about working with living trust attorneys

by the Editor, SeniorInsider | Jun 02, 2011

Living trust attorneys can help you set up a legal document which allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to the trust. Trust and will preparation, properly set up by a living trust attorney, allows your estate to avoid probate, preventing the courts from controlling your assets should you become incapacitated, and giving you freedom and control over the assets you leave to your children or grandchildren.

What Living Trust Attorneys Know

  1. Many people are afraid they will lose control over their senior home if they have a living trust attorney draw up a trust. The fact is that a living trust allows you unlimited control and access to your assets as long as you are alive, enabling you to pass property to your loved ones following your death.
  2. A will alone is not sufficient to allow your estate to avoid probate, but is rather simply an expression of your wishes. If your estate is worth over $50,000, your estate will still go through probate prior to being distributed to your heirs as per the wishes in your will. Living trust attorneys know that probate can last up to two years, and cost from 10 to 40% of the estate’s value. While a will must be submitted to probate court and made public, living trusts do not have to be made public.
  3. Living trust attorneys will set up your trust so that it owns title to the property or asset—called funding your trust. Once your resources are in the name of the trust, you, or you and your spouse can be the main trustees who have absolute control to purchase, get rid of, borrow or reassign assets in the case of the spouse’s passing. After both of you die, the living trust will give a person of your choice the right to manage the assets on behalf of your wishes.
  4. Living trust attorneys know the importance of avoiding probate, primarily because in many cases the court ends up deciding how to distribute your estate. Your will is filed with the local probate court and becomes public, your executor inventories your property, the property is appraised, all debts and death taxes are paid, court costs, attorney fees and executor fees are paid, and finally what is left of your estate is distributed to your heirs.
  5. Living trust attorneys will guide you in transferring property into your living trust, including your home, any other real estate, business interests, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market and brokerage accounts, jewelry and antiques, art, and any other valuable collections.

How Living Trust Attorneys Can Help You Plan Your Estate

  1. Living trust attorneys will include any property for which you are the sole owner in your living trust, changing the property’s title to reflect the change in ownership, and will advise you on any possible property tax implications.
  2. You will be advised on the myriad of issues you will need to be aware of when you transfer property; when property is transferred to a living trust, transfer taxes are generally not imposed. As the grantor of the living trust you can still deduct your mortgage interest from your income taxes and will not need to change your insurance policies. Homestead rights apply, and you can transfer partial interest in real property to the trust as per your living trust attorney’s advice.
  3. Living trust attorneys will educate you about the three types of living trust beneficiaries which are specific beneficiaries (those who receive specific property), primary beneficiaries (those who receive property not distributed to specific beneficiaries), and alternate beneficiaries who receive property should the primary beneficiary die before you do.
  4. Distributing property to your children is relatively simple when setting up a living trust; you can keep the property and assets in the trust and simply name an adult to manage the property on behalf of your child. This is known as a sub-trust, and this sub-trust ends when all your specified conditions are properly met.
  5. Finally, in community property states, it is possible for your spouse to invalidate part of your carefully crafted trust should you leave him or her less than a specified amount of your property. If the courts believe your spouse has a valid claim, they will change your trust to reflect this change.



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