If you would like for your family to be able to avoid probate and all the issues that come with the process, you may want to consider drafting a living trust instead of a will. A living trust is one of the best estate planning tools if you want to stay in control of your assets until the very day that you die or become incapacitated. As you create a living trust, here are three questions to ask yourself:
1. What Are You Putting Into the Living Trust?
A trust like this can hold a wide assortment of property. This includes anything from stocks and bonds to real estate and personal items. For those who have a lot of property and belongings to sift through, it may be beneficial to start with the most valuable property and work your way down. This simply helps ensure that the things that matter the most are taken care of early on in the process.
2. Who Will You Designate to Be the Successor Trustee?
Most people tend to name themselves as the trustee of their own living trust. However, you must name someone to come in and handle things after you pass away. This person is a successor trustee and will be responsible for managing your living trust and carrying out your wishes, as outlined in the trust. Your spouse is the most obvious choice for this person, but some choose a child, sibling or very close friend, depending on their individual circumstances in life.
3. Will Any Additional Steps Be Necessary?
For some, listing the property that you have in your living trust is not enough. This is particularly true if you're dealing with real estate. In order to transfer real estate into a living trust, you will have to transfer the title. This is true even if you are the current owner, as it needs to dictate you as the trustee of a living trust. More than likely, this will require some additional paperwork. You will also need to keep in mind your mortgage, insurance policy, property taxes and any tax breaks that you receive.
If a living trust is something that you want, it is important that you understand these are only the first and most basic questions that you need to ask yourself and answer. Every individual has different estate planning needs. Therefore, it is recommended to speak to an experienced estate planning or probate attorney such as George M Cappello, Lawyer. to discuss your individual situation. This is simply to ensure that you have the right tools at your disposal and create the most accurate living trust, which is important if you want to keep your family out of probate following your death.