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Living Trust Checklist: What You Need To Know

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Keith Morris & Stacy Kelly, Attorneys at Law often uses living trusts to help clients organize their assets and keep them protected for the benefit of their heirs.

Many clients are unsure of what a living trust is and how it works. When a living trust is created, a person’s assets are put into it during their lifetime. Typically, the person will remain the trustee of their assets until they die, then the trust assets will transfer to the designated beneficiaries. This way, the owner of the assets still controls the estate.

Creating a living trust can offer you the protection of your assets and help ensure a smooth transition for your beneficiaries after you’ve passed away. To get you started, we’ve put together this checklist for items that you’ll need for setting up your living trust.

1. Make a list
Before your trust can be set up, you have to know what’s going in it. A detailed list of all your assets will be required. Include tangible items like real estate and personal belongings, but also include intangibles such as bank accounts, life insurance policies, etc.

2. Get documents together
After your list is complete, gather all documentation you have to prove you are the owner of these assets. Deeds, titles, etc. are important for your estate planning attorney to start “funding” the trust with your assets.

3. Choose Beneficiaries
Your living trust should specifically state which heirs should receive what property. Once you have your list of assets, now is the time to go down the list and note who is to receive what.

4. Choose a successor
While most people name themselves as trustees during their lifetime, there will need to be a successor trustee named to manage the assets after you die or if you become incapacitated. Check with the person you want to name and make sure he or she is willing to perform the job.

5. Transfer titles
The final, and possibly most important, step to set up your living trust is transferring your assets to yourself as trustee. This may seem silly, but this “funding” of the trust helps your loved ones avoid a probate battle later. To make sure you get this step done correctly, contact Houston Trust's attorney Keith Morris today for help.