Planning Your Living Trust: Four Things You May be Overlooking
As you start thinking about what belongs in your Living Trust, here are four things that often get overlooked—and can have significant, often costly consequences.
Creating Joint Tenancy Assets
In Living Trust conversations, joint tenancy generally refers to real estate and how you hold title to a property. If two people own a property, joint tenancy (with the right of survivorship) means that if one owner dies, that owner’s interest in the property will pass evenly to the surviving owner or owners without having to go through Probate.
Funding, the process of transferring assets into a Living Trust, is part of the Living Trust process. A Grant Deed transfers real property into the Trust. This Deed will also remove property from your Trust–many banks require your home to be removed from your Trust in order to refinance. Guideway can help remove your property from the Trust, then place it back in after the Refi is complete.
Disposing of family keepsakes
You can’t put a price tag on sentimental value. Small insignificant items that may not hold any monetary value can be important sentimental icons for family members. They can also be the cause of family strife. Smart families divide these up long before anyone dies. In my own family, as my folks aged, they encouraged us to take things home with us when we visited. Other families explicitly identify these items and their distribution in their Living Trusts. When Robin Williams died, his kids sued his wife to get possession of the substantial collection of memorabilia that their father had collected over his career. If he’d identified their distribution in his Trust he would have saved his family a whole lot of grief.
Assets such as life insurance, annuities and retirement plans fall outside a Living Trust. Naming a beneficiary for these accounts supersedes whomever you might name in your Trust.
We see this one all the time. You named your ex-wife as your beneficiary for your 401k—but that was in happier times. After your divorce, you removed her as the beneficiary in your Trust. But unless you also remove her as the beneficiary in your 401k account, it’s your ex who will benefit if something happens to you.
Naming backup Executors and alternates
Think carefully about whom you name as your Executor and alternate. Your brilliant banker cousin Jerry may be the perfect choice because he totally gets this stuff, but he’s 67, he’s still sneaking cigarettes and he has a heart condition. Keep Jerry, but identify an alternate who is healthier and younger.
As you update your Trust over the years, plan to review your Executor and alternate appointments. Make sure they’re still available and capable of taking on the responsibilities of this role.
Guideway, we’re a single point of contact
When creating your Living Trust, you’ll work with a dedicated specialist who is available for questions and support throughout the process. We’ve been in business since 2003 and have expanded to three Bay Area offices–Dublin, Oakland and Walnut Creek. More than 60% of our business comes from referrals and repeat business.
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