If you are trying to decide if a Revocable Living Trust is for you, then you should know the best reason to have a Living Trust: probate avoidance. In most cases, a Revocable Living Trust can help your family circumvent the costly and lengthy court process used to settled Will-based estates.
If you are using a Living Trust for the purpose of probate avoidance, you must take care that your Trust is always properly funded. Having a properly funded Trust means titling all applicable property into the name of your Trust. Property that should be funded into your Trust includes real estate titled solely in your name. Beware, there are some items, such as retirement accounts, that are best left out of your Revocable Living Trust.
The next important piece of a solid Living Trust is choosing beneficiaries. Take care with this process and always make sure you up-date your heirs. If you pass away with pre-deceased heirs listed in your Trust agreement, your estate may have to endure probate. Up-date your beneficiaries when they are born, marry, or pass away. Also, check them each time you review your estate plan.
If your Trust is properly funded and your beneficiaries are correct, your successor trustees duties will be simple. He or she will use your Trust agreement to pass property, outside of probate, to your heirs.
Items Outside Trust
If any items are left out of your Trust and they do not have their own beneficiary designation or joint owner, the items will have to be probated into the names of your heirs. For this reason, it is a good idea to have Pour Over Will. This type of Will allows property not funded into your Trust during your life to be funded into your Trust after you pass away. This process may occur in a shortened version of probate.
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