In my last blog, I explained why your will won’t get you where you want to go. If I have managed to convince you (or maybe even if you’re still up in the air), then let me explain to you how a trust can help get you there. A trust is like a bucket with instructions written on it about what to do with the stuff inside. When an attorney sets up a trust for you, they help you legally write the instructions for how to handle the stuff inside. During the process of asset alignment, (formerly known as funding) they should help you to make sure that all of your stuff gets in the bucket.
Now that everything is in the bucket, and you’ve hired an attorney to monitor the changes in your assets, the law and your circumstances, you can relax about your loved ones being taken care of when something happens to you. Here is how it works. The Trustees of the trust are holding the bucket, following the instructions, and making sure that everything happens as it should from day-to-day. In the case of a revocable trust, you will likely be the Trustee of your own trust (and still in control of your assets). When you die, instead of your stuff falling on the floor as would happen in probate, there are instructions on the bucket (in the trust) for another person’s hands to come on the bucket and take control (a successor Trustee). Because the trust does not die, none of the assets aligned with the trust have to go through probate, meaning your successor Trustee has immediate access to those assets and can use them as needed to care for your loved ones and handle your final expenses.
There is one key here—your assets must be aligned with your trust at the time you die. Like a will, just having a trust document does not get you where you want to go. Remember, a trust is like an empty bucket. If you never align your assets, all you have is an empty bucket, and a lot of stuff that still has to go through probate. Even if you align your assets with the trust initially, it is essential that you continue to monitor your assets and make sure that any new assets (or accounts that change) are aligned with the trust.
Part of our process at Family Estate Planning Law Group, is taking you through the asset alignment process to help you ensure everything is in “your bucket” and your loved ones are taken care of. In addition, our client care program focuses on making sure your assets continue to be aligned so that at the time of your death or incapacity there are no surprises and that the trustees have immediate control of the assets you own at the time you die.
To learn more about how Family Estate Planning Law Group can be there for you as you age, more about our unique alignment process called SAVeT™, and our ongoing client care program, explore our blog and visit our website to schedule your free consultation today!
–Written by Kristin Carroll from Family Estate Planning Law Group.