After presenting a workshop this morning, I realized the questions from that group might be the same questions other people have. So, let’s answer them here again.
What Is A Living Trust?
Here are the answers. A trust is a great tool to protect your family. Here, I’m talking about one specific kind of trust: a revocable living trust. You set this up while you’re alive and well. You are 100% in control up until a doctor declares you incompetent. Then the person you named as “Trustee” will take over and use your money to take care of you. If you’re married, you may have named each other as trustee. Then after death, the trustee will pay off any outstanding bills or expenses, make any specific gifts you wanted, and then liquidate and distribute the rest to your beneficiaries in the percentages you wanted.
I Heard Of Probate. How Do We Avoid That?
The best way to avoid probate is to setup a revocable living trust, make all of your bank accounts and other properties/assets OWNED by your trust, and then keep it UP TO DATE as life goes on. A trust can’t be left alone for years without being updated; it needs to be current on the day you die. Laws change every year. Your life changes more than you realize. It must be current.
What Are Ways To Distribute My Estate?
On estate planning, first decide if you are going to leave anything to charity. Then decide if you want to name any specific dollar amount for anyone AND if you want to designate any specific ITEM to someone in particulate. Then finally, decide how you want to split up “what’s left” into percentages. These are the instructions you will put into your trust when setting it up.
Does A Beneficiary On An Account Override My Trust?
Yes. Here’s the answer: if you name Suzy Smith as beneficiary of your life insurance and then say in your trust that your life insurance goes to John Smith, Suzy will be the one to get it after setting up. You could name your trust as beneficiary of the insurance and then have your trust written to say that John gets it.
How Do We Make Sure Someone Doesn’t Challenge My Trust?
The best way is to specifically declare that they were left out intentionally. Here’s the answers to it. I know that feels harsh, but it’s the best way to protect the OTHER people who ARE getting something from a big probate litigation battle. The way you do that is to say something like, “Even though John Smith is my natural heir, I specifically intend to treat him as if he had predeceased me under this trust.” You must also decide if John Smith’s descendants are are also disinherited and if so, say, “…treat him, and his descendants, as if they predeceased me…”. Then, it is very difficult, nearly impossible, for him to crawl out of the wood work and cause problems.
Were you able to get answers to your estate planning questions?