Things to Do Before Creating a Trust
Establishing a trust can give you peace of mind that your family will be taken care of after you’re gone. It can also help you skip the probate process, avoid estate taxes, and distribute your assets quicker. Here are a few things you should do before drafting a trust.
Write Down All Your Assets
The first step you have to take is to make a list of all the assets you own. These items include everything from homes, vehicles, and family heirlooms to stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts. If you know exactly what you have, it will be easier for you to determine who you want to give what after you’re gone.
Locate the Paperwork for Your Assets
Once you’ve written down all your assets, it’s important to find all the paperwork associated with them such as titles, deeds, and life insurance policies. Then, give them to your estate planning lawyer. He or she will need these documents to transfer your assets to the trust.
Select Your Beneficiaries
Then, it’s time to decide who you want to receive your assets after you die. Beneficiaries can include family members, friends, and even charities. Selecting beneficiaries is a very personal decision and you shouldn’t let anyone influence your decision. If you’re married, for example, you would likely choose your spouse as the primary beneficiary. This is the person who would most likely suffer financially from your death, and you want to make sure he or she is taken care of.
Choose a Successor Trustee
The person you name as the successor trustee will pay your debts and distribute your assets after you’re gone. He or she would also handle your health and financial affairs should you become incapacitated. That’s why it’s essential to choose someone you trust and know is capable of doing the job.
Name a Guardian for Your Minor Children
In a trust, you can’t actually designate a guardian for your minor children. However, you should still think about who you want to look after your children should you die unexpectedly. Ideally, this person should be in good health, have their finances in order, and share your values in raising children. It’s also a good idea to name an alternate guardian in case the initial guardian can no longer fulfill their role.
Hiring an Estate Planning Lawyer
A trust is a complicated legal document, so you shouldn’t try to draft it on your own. It’s important to hire an experienced estate planning lawyer to guide you through the process. He or she can ensure that the trust clearly states your wishes.
Schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer today.