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Avoid This Common But Fatal Trust Planning Error

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: February 24, 2014

It seems logical that if you go to all the trouble and expense of planning a trust, you would certainly remember to fund it. However, this is a common mistake people make. No matter how much money you spend or advice you get in setting up a trust, it can’t operate without being funded. To be funded, you need transfer title to personal property into the trust as well as execute a deed transferring real estate into the trust and any bank accounts that are not “payable on death.”

A trust controls only the assets to which it has the title. This step is essential. If you have been appointed a trustee and have discovered this crucial mistake, here’s how to go about setting it right.

If the settlor is still alive, that person is going to need to contact all the banks and brokers of the assets affected by the trust. This process is time consuming and will involve a lot of paperwork to get the titles transferred into the trust, but it’s not complicated. We set you up with instruction on how to handle everything and we take care of preparation of the real estate deeds.

If the settlor of the trust has passed, then the issue will have to be handled in probate, which is really what the trust was designed to avoid in the first place. The only thing you can do is contact the attorney.

This issue underscores why it’s so important to have a will, a Power of Attorney and to check and recheck your estate plan. With a Power of Attorney, it’s much easier to make sure your estate division goes as planned, whether or not you can help sort it out.

Over the past 22 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped more than 800 clients prepare and utilize simple and effective planning techniques to protect them and their families in order to avoid probate, save estate taxes, save money and save added emotional burden that comes from long term illness and/or death of a family member. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.

With a little bit of planning, we can help you save a lot of time, money and aggravation while at the same time accomplishing your planning goals.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More