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Do you have a trust?

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  • #31
    Much of this is state specific. If you own a business or have property out of state, your estate planning necessarily will be more complex. Blended families, special needs trusts, etc. require additional care.

    It's best to hire an attorney who has some experience litigating disputes over wills and trust, not just drafting the documents. ACTEC membership isn't mandatory, but it's a pretty good seal of approval.

    Also, make sure your trust gets funded. Consider either paying your attorney's paralegal or support staff to do it for you or get clear guidance on what you have to do to retitle things and get everything into the trust. Even if you do the work of funding the trust yourself, set a deadline of a month or two and a brief follow up meeting with your attorney or his/her team to make sure everything gets done. Otherwise you have an expensive piece of paper that accomplishes very little.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by G View Post

      Nice explanation.

      Welcome to the forum. Hope you stick around, we could use more attorneys here. <insert lawyer joke>
      Agreed on all counts.

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      • #33
        To "billy," you may still not avoid probate if your house won't transfer via joint tenancy deed. However, sometimes I don't want the house to transfer that way. Sorry, but too many "depends" in estate planning. There are other reasons besides avoiding probate that may make you go for a revocable trust. Hank's advice to administer the trust through funding is key. Being proactive about your estate planning can make all the difference, especially depending on the attorney you're with.

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        • #34
          We (spouse and I both are physicians) have:
          1. Wills and 2 separate revocable living trusts (RLTs) (roughly $4000 15 years ago including POA, advanced directives)
          2. Life insurance irrevocable living trust when the estate tax was much lower than current estate tax exemption.
          3. Intentionally defective grantor trust for commercial property gifted to my spouse that we want to had off to our kids when are 35-40 years old.

          If you have significant taxable accounts, RVT is a no-brainer especially in states with high probate costs, plus your assets in probate are publicly disclosed.

          Funding the trusts is not that difficult. Retirement accounts are separate from revocable living trust are passed down via designated beneficiaries (please confirm beneficiaries every couple of years especially after divorce or death). Brokerage and mutual fund companies will provide form to convert individual accounts to trust accounts. Bank accounts are more difficult. Some banks, especially the large online banks, are relatively easy to set up, other banks (smaller ones) they charge you higher fees to maintain a trust checking account. In our case, my wife and opted to has 2 joint checking accounts, which essentially is our own individual checking account but will pass to survivor.

          Life insurance irrevocable trust probably not worth it with the high estate tax exemption, which may be scaled back with sunset provision in a couple of years, so I am maintaining it since it is a sunk cost. Need to maintain documentation of Crummey letters, and set up a dedicated trust checking account with separate tax ID number to fund for insurance premiums.

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