FAQ: Living Trusts
Q: What is a Living Trust?
A: A Living Trust is a legal document. It contains instructions for the distribution of assets at your death. Generally, when created, the grantor (you) will transfer to another person, the trustee (also you during your lifetime) property interests to be held and management for the beneficiary (again, you during your lifetime).
Q: Who controls the Trust Assets
A: The trustee (you) is in complete control of the assets. While most people desire to serve as trustee to maintain control of the assets, professional trustees are available, such as a bank trust department, or trust management firm, for those not wishing to serve as the trustee, or if they are unable to serve.
Q: How do I transfer Assets to my Trust?
A: Assets are transferred to the Trust by changing title on real estate and other titled assets (bank accounts, stocks, bonds, etc.). Personal items like jewelry, furniture, tools and clothing are typically transferred to the Trust under a blanket assignment, eliminating the necessity of keeping up with your personal possessions throughout your lifetime.
Q: How do my Trust Assets avoid Probate?
A: Assets that you own at your death are usually subject to probate. If the ownership of assets is transferred to the Trust, even though you control all of the assets, legally the Trust is the owner; therefore, you have no assets to probate.
Q: If I Die or become incapacitated, who is in control of my trust?
A: If you are married, and your spouse are normally co-trustees, your spouse is immediately in control. If something happens to both of you, or you are not married, the person you named as Successor Trustee is immediately in charge.
Q: Who Should I Name as my Successor Trustee?
A: Usually, you will name one or all of your children as your Successor Trustee or Co-Trustees.
Q: What does my Successor Trustee Do?
A: The Successor Trustee manages the assets of the Trust while you are incapacitated. If you die, the Successor trustee distributes the assets to your beneficiaries, often themselves and their siblings.
Q: How long does it take to Establish a Trust?
A: After a few basic decisions, the process usually takes only a couple of weeks. Under rush conditions, it can be done in a matter of days.
Q: How does a Trust help save Estate Taxes?
A: If you are married, a properly structured trust allows each spouse to keep their Estate tax exemption intact. Under current 2008 levels, this allows each spouse to pass $2,000,000 to their beneficiaries without having to pay any estate tax at their demise.
Q: My Estate is modest, do I need a Living Trust?
A: Each individual situation needs to be evaluated to determine the level of need or benefit. Many variables will establish the different benefits, including size of the estate, heir status, type and location of the assets owned, and many other circumstances.
Q: What is the difference between a Living Trust and a Testamentary Trust?
A: A Living Trust is established while you are alive. The Testamentary trust is part of your Will. Your Will states that at your death, assets that you identify are to be placed into Trust. Assets that go to a Testamentary trust are generally probated before they go into the Trust. By placing assets into a Living Trust, this unpleasant, often costly and time consuming process is avoided.
All Trusts, Wills, Amendments, and the like are overseen, processed and completed by a licensed California State Bar Attorney. Thorson Financial Estate Management, Inc., ElderCare Planning, Inc.,The Society for Financial Awareness, Securities America, and the employees or affiliates thereof do not provide legal advice and are not affiliated with the California State Bar, or the licensed attorney. The information provided within is for informational purposes only. No personal guarantees are expressed or implied in the information provided herein. Please consult a qualified representative for tax or legal advice.