CA Estate Planning Blog

Friday, May 12, 2017

Funding Your Trust

How can a trust help my assets to avoid the probate process?

A trust is one of the most powerful estate planning tools in existence, but unless you fund your trust, it will be of little value.  Funding a trust involves transferring assets into the trust.  This can be accomplished by changing the titles on your accounts, property, or beneficiary designations.  Funding a trust can be challenging for individuals with multiple homes or several accounts.  With the help of your California trusts and estate planning attorney, you can ensure your living or irrevocable trust is properly created and funded, allowing your assets to pass to your heirs without the need for probate.

Trusts vs. Wills

When most of us think of estate planning, we think of creating a will.  While wills are a central component to any estate plan, trusts offer several key advantages.  With a legally created and funded trust, your assets within the trust will avoid probate entirely.  Instead, they will go to the named trust recipients with the assistance of the trustee you have already selected.  Using a trust to transfer most of your assets will ensure that your estate is not stuck paying hefty taxes and your heirs receive assets soon after your death. Wills, on the other hand, still require that assets go through probate, which is often costly and time-consuming.

Even with a trust or several trusts in place, it is important to have a pour over will in place in case you leave some property outside of your trust.  Without a pour over will, any assets not in a trust will pass through California’s laws of intestacy.  Your estate planning attorney will assist you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that best protects your assets.

Funding Your Living Trust 

Funding your trust will require specific legal paperwork.  You will need to survey your belongings and consider what assets to place within the trust. Your trust attorney will guide you through the process of inventorying assets and deciding what assets belong within the trust.  Armed with this knowledge, your attorney will then prepare the legal documents necessary to transfer your assets into the trust.


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