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Why a living trust may be important for your situation


"Living trusts" is an estate planning buzz word that many Kent area residents have heard of, but may not understand what they are. They can be a valuable estate planning tool for many families, but mistakes can be made with them as well.

Living trusts are established when a person's assets are transferred to a trust and the person has control over the trust as a trustee. The main advantage of establishing a living trust is that an estate can avoid probate. After the person passes away, the assets in the trust are obtained by the successor trustee and are passed to beneficiaries or distributed based on what was directed in the trust agreement. This ensures a person's estate matters remain private and the assets are not recorded. A living trust can also be to a person's advantage if they become disabled. A successor trustee would be able to take over and manage the assets.

There are mistakes that can be made when establishing a living trust. One of the main mistakes is that assets are not transferred to the trust to begin with. Just creating a trust is not enough, the trust needs to be funded. The assets need to have their titles officially changed to reflect the trust. That includes changing the deeds on real estate and changing the titles on vehicles. Financial accounts also need to be changed to the trust. In addition, the successor trustee needs to know in advance that they are the successor trustee and they should have copies of the trust and know where the original is kept.

A living trust makes sense for many families in the Kent area, especially those who are interested in avoiding probate. A legal professional who knows estate planning law can help their clients with their trust needs.

Source: forbes.com, "7 big estate planning mistakes-not making full use of a living trust", Bob Carlson, Feb. 28, 2018

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