The Terrible Surprise of an Empty Trust

You do the grown-up thing.

You get to your attorney and work out your estate plan.

You decide it makes sense to create a trust (here’s a quick review of the difference between a WILL and a TRUST…).

You sign all the documents. Your attorney gives you a shiny, leather-like binder, makes you promise to check the Funding Instructions section, and sends you on your way. You check ‘Estate Plan’ off your list and get on with life, thinking nothing more of it.

That attorney has done you a massive disservice!

All those documents you signed? Your attorney just helped you set up an empty trust. It was the next step in the process of putting together an estate plan. But it’s not the last step. There is still more to do. The legal container has been created, but you still have to move your assets INTO your trust.

I see this critical step overlooked by attorneys all the time.

Either they don’t want to deal with it (truly, it is more work for an attorney, more details to keep track of, and more minutiae to get bogged down in), or they just don’t do a lot of this work, and haven’t thought this step through.

Here’s what happens when this step gets skipped. You pass away, with all your assets still under your own name. Or maybe you’re married and leave everything to your spouse. Then your spouse passes away.

Your family is thinking, that’s okay, there’s a trust! Everything has been set up to be simple, quick and clean, with all assets readily accessible for us, the surviving family members.

Except the trust is empty.

Because it’s the next steps after creating the legal documents that integrate your assets into your plan. Bank accounts need to be retitled. Beneficiary designations need to be changed. Real estate ownership needs to be updated. And it all needs to be done in a way that fits your planning goals.

If you skip these steps, then your assets are still (legally) owned individually. And when you die, your family and your attorney have to go through the probate process to move them into your trust. That’s a year of time, several or more thousand dollars in expenses – and the entire thing is public!

Weren’t we trying to avoid all this by setting up the trust in the first place?

It gets me crazy when I meet with new clients to update their plans and find their prior attorney hasn’t coached them through the asset integration piece. It’s like you bought a car, but the dealership didn’t install the engine.

I’m sure you’d like to know whether your plan’s ‘engine’ has been properly installed. Let’s hop on the phone and talk about your plan, to make sure it will – actually – accomplish your goals for your family. We call this a Plan Check-Up and it’s as easy as CLICKING HERE to schedule one today.

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