You can determine how your assets are owned by looking at the title of the accounts on financial statements or the title of real estate on the deed. Proper asset ownership is imperative to an estate plan that works. If you dont own your assets correctly, your estate plan wont work.
If you have a revocable living trust, proper asset ownership includes funding your trust. For most assets, this means transferring the title of assets to the name of your trust. For beneficiary designation assets, this means changing the name of the beneficiary to the title of your trust.
A living trust title looks something like this, though it can be abbreviated:
Kimberly and Michael Jones, Trustees, or their successors in trust, under the Kimberly and Michael Jones Living Trust, dated October 23, 2011. This is a joint trust for married persons.
A separate for a married person would look like this:
Kimberly and Michael Jones, Trustees, or their successors in trust, under the Kimberly Jones Living Trust, dated October 23, 2011.
An individual trust for a single person or a person who is in a blended family and does not name a spouse as co-trustee would look like this:
Kimberly Jones, Trustee, or her successors in trust, under the Kimberly Jones Living Trust, dated October 23, 2011.
Important Points to Remember
- Your living trust only controls assets in the name of your living trust.
- Your will only controls assets in your individual name, that dont have a beneficiary designation.
- You cannot control jointly owned assets (joint tenants with right of survivorship), unless you change the form of ownership
- Your will and trust do not control life insurance, retirement assets, or annuities made payable to an individual.
- Your will doesnt control your house or financial accounts if you own them jointly with a spouse, child, or other individual.
To best ensure that your estate plan works, you must own your assets properly. Consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to determine the best way for you to own your assets.