There was a time in the "Good Old Days" when a hardworking person was rewarded, respected, and could pass their wealth to their family without much trouble. Times are changing and we are witnessing a new era of economic misery. This misery index is called "The Cost of Dying", and it measures the aggregate cost of final sickness and death in financial terms. Probate is not the only hardship your estate will suffer. Today you must add several other substantial cost considerations to your Estate Planning. They deserve your careful consideration if you are to avoid the difficulties and financial pitfalls that can destroy all you have worked hard to accumulate and pass to your children. Your financial future depends on your being prepared.
A Revocable Living trust is fast becoming the vehicle of choice for Americans who want to maximize available opportunities for structuring their estate. A living trust has many benefits and is considered the cornerstone of every comprehensive estate plan.
Here are some advantages of a living trust:
1. A Living Trust saves taxes.
When a couple holds property or stock in joint tenancy and the first spouse dies, the surviving spouse is required to pay a Capital Gains Tax upon sale. This tax is based upon one-half of the increase in value of the property since the time of its purchase. With a LIVING TRUST, title is transferred into the Trust. This entirely eliminates the Federal Capital Gains Tax at death on all increases in value up to the date of death.
2. A Living Trust is completely private.
A Will provides no privacy with public Probate Court Proceedings. A LIVING TRUST is a private document. The size and distribution of your estate remains confidential and not a matter of public record.
3. A Living Trust prevents a will contest.
If you ever become incapacitated, the Probate Court will appoint a Conservator to manage your property, and your Estate will be required to pay court fees and costs for the conservatorship each year. With a LIVING TRUST, your Trustee can manage your property if you are unable to handle your affairs, and there are NO COURT FEES or involvement.
4. A Living Trust enables you to control your assets.
A common question is, "Will I lose control of my assets in a Living Trust?" The answer is unequivocally, "NO!". A LIVING TRUST allows you to retain control of your property, and upon your death YOU CONTROL WHEN AND HOW MUCH YOUR BENEFICIARY WILL RECEIVE. As the Trustee of your Living Trust, you have all the same powers that you have now as the current owner of your assets. Using a Living Trust you can buy, sell, or gift away assets in any fashion that you could before forming your Living Trust. Finally, a Living Trust does NOT require any new tax forms or added tax filings. You will file and pay taxes in exactly the same manner as you did before you had a Trust
5. A Living Trust avoids joint tenancy problems.
Joint Tenancy is a method of avoiding Probate where, upon the death of one co-owner, the survivor becomes the full owner of the property. If you place your child on your property as a Joint Tenant with you as an owner, your child has the power to interfere with your decision to sell or refinance the property. If your child should go through a divorce, the other spouse can claim an interest in the property. If your child should owe taxes, the tax collector may take your property to satisfy their tax obligation. If your child should be found liable in any lawsuit, your property may be sold to pay the judgment. With a LIVING TRUST, Probate is entirely avoided and there is no exposure of your assets to the debts or liabilities of your children.
Bad advice can be costly. Many legal and financial advisors have recommended "Joint Ownership" or "Joint Tenancy" as a way to eliminate Probate. While this advice is correct, in that it does avoid Probate, the aftermath of Joint Ownership can be devastating! You may find that Double Taxation will also occur when you choose that method.
6. An A-B Living Trust saves substantial estate taxes.
Estate Taxes are paid to the Federal Government for the transfer of property upon death. Federal Estate Taxes are based on the size of the estate and imposed where the net value of the estate is larger than $1,000,000. The Federal Estate Taxes are almost one-half of the estate after deducting the $1,000,000 exemption. A LIVING TRUST saves substantial Estate Taxes.
7. A Living Trust avoids complex probate proceedings.
Probate is the court process designed to transfer titles of assets to your heirs and clears your debts. Probate is required especially when there is a WILL. Laws requiring your executor to obtain special court approval to take any actions, including paying your bills and distributing your assets complicate the Probate court procedure. Probate fees are based on the entire value of the estate, without deducting debts or mortgages.
With a LIVING TRUST, your family will not have to go through Probate, and can avoid paying expensive Probate fees and costs. With a LIVING TRUST, the title to your property is transferred to the Trust so that your heirs can easily receive your assets and will not have to go through complex Probate Court proceedings. Probate is completely eliminated. A properly-funded Living Trust will completely avoid the costs and delays created by Probate and literally allow the successor trustees and heirs to settle the entire estate in a matter of days.
8. A Living Trust allows a quick distribution to your heirs.
Assets in Probate Court are frozen from six months to two years or more, even with a WILL. A LIVING TRUST allows these same assets to be distributed within days to your loved ones, since a Living Trust avoids Probate Court and is administered by a pre-appointed Trustee.
Common questions about a Living Trust:
Q. Can I sell assets or add new assets to my Living Trust?
A. Yes, you can. You can sell assets and add new assets yourself without requiring a change of the Trust. In essence, you can do anything you want with your property while it is in the Trust. You retain complete control over your assets
Q. How do I fund my Trust?
A. You place your assets into your trust by changing the name on all of your titled assets, i.e. savings accounts, money markets, stocks, mutual funds, CDs, annuities, life insurance, bonds, and your fixed assets such as real estate, into the name of your Living Trust. This is a very important step that must be done for your assets to truly avoid the Probate process. It is simple to do and very, very important
Q. If I have a Living Trust do I also need a Will?
A. Yes, you will need a "Pour Over Will", which automatically "pours over" into your Living Trust, at your death, any assets you forgot to put into the Living Trust. Those forgotten assets will have to go through Probate, but will go directly into your Living Trust after Probate.
Q. Can I appoint one of my children as the Trustee for my Living Trust?
A. Yes, you can. Usually you remain the Trustee during your life and your children takes over at your death. You cannot name a minor child as a Trustee, however.
Q. How do we end our Living Trust?
A. When you die and all the assets in the trust are distributed, the trust will end. If you retain assets in the trust after your death for distribution to your heirs over a number of years, the trust will remain active until such time as your instructions dictate the end of the trust or all assets are finally distributed. This could take a few years, or decades. It depends on how you express your wishes in the trust.
Q. Can a Living Trust buy and sell assets in the trust?
A. Yes, you actually do business in the name of your trust. You can buy, sell, trade, or give away your assets. It all depends on you, the Trustee. You have complete control of your assets and can do anything with them after the trust is formed that you could do before the trust was formed.
If you are choosing a doctor, mechanic, or carpenter, what is the most important qualification you look for? His or her experience and expertise. It should be no different in choosing who will assist you in the establishment of your Living Trust and through the funding process.
We have serviced thousands of clients in 47 states through our highly experienced estate planners, and funding consultants. Ongoing support is another issue that is a concern to those who establish their Living Trust. The knowledge that we are well-established nationally and prepared to assist in future changes, updates, and questions has been a great comfort to those who have sought Estate Planning help through our company
You may now receive the finest trust in America directly from us. We will confer with you in person, over E-mail or telephone, as you prefer, then produce your Living Trust exactly to your specifications. Every Trust is approved by our estate-planning attorneys, and delivered with a 30-day 100% money-back-guarantee for legal accuracy. You will also receive necessary changes to your trust FREE for the life of your trust.
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