Quincey and Jaide are meeting with their estate planning attorney. They are drafting their trust agreement. They are excited to take this important step towards ensuring financial security for their family. Writing the trust agreement is a formal statement that provides guidance on how they want their accounts and property distributed.
Speaking of accounts and property, the next important step in establishing a trust is to fund it.
What does Funding your Trust Mean?
Funding your trust is the process of moving your money and property into the trust. To move their accounts and property to their new trust, Quincey and Jaide will need to retitle their accounts and property in the name of their trust.
Funding Your Trust
The couple’s estate planning attorney gives them two potential options for funding their trust:
- They can transfer ownership of their accounts and property from them as a couple to them as the co-trustees of their trust.
- When they complete their beneficiary designations for life insurance and, in some cases, retirement accounts, they can name the trust as the beneficiary.
Having their trust established and funded will give Quincey and Jaide the peace of mind that if they become incapacitated for any reason or die, a successor trustee they have chosen can use the accounts and property for their trust’s beneficiaries. The trust agreement will outline the successor trustee’s rights and responsibilities. Because the property and accounts are in the trust, the transition from Quincey and Jaide to their successor trustee will be seamless. It will not incur the costs or delay associated with going through the probate process. Avoiding probate is only an option if the trust has already been fully funded.
Quincey and Jaide have worked with their financial institutions to change the ownership of each of their accounts to their trust. They were required to sign a new deed and record it with the county recorder in order to move the family home into the trust.
Here is how they went about moving each of their accounts and property into their trust.
Checking and Savings Accounts
Here is the process they followed:
- Gathered all checking, savings money market, and certificate of deposit (CD) accounts of substantial value.
- Worked with their bank and credit union account representatives and followed each step in their certificate of trust, a document that lists important information they will need to retitle each of these accounts.
- Checked each of their CDs to verify that there would be no early withdrawal penalties. They plan to wait until each CD matures and then transfer it into their trust if there are any penalties.
- The bank was able to transfer the accounts without issuing new checks for their CDs with the trust’s name on them.
Real Estate and Real Property Interests
Quincy and Jaide worked with their attorney to transfer their home and vacation property into the trust. If they have any real property interests such as mineral or timber rights, their attorney will help them identify these interests and prepare, sign, and record real property deeds that transfer these interests into their trust. They worked closely with their attorney on this process to ensure they fully understood any property tax or legal implications that may result from transferring their home and vacation property into the trust.
Jaide and Quincey met with their financial advisor to complete the necessary paperwork to retitle their brokerage accounts in the name of their trust. The certificate of trust was also necessary to complete this process.
Quincey and Jaide took the following steps to move their personal property into the trust:
- They signed an assignment of personal property to move their furniture, jewelry, clothing, books, artwork, photos, journal, stamp collections, and tools into the trust.
The couple’s attorney advised against moving their cars into the trust. They could have moved vehicles registered with the state’s department of motor vehicles into the trust, but their attorney advised against it, citing the tax and registration consequences, the casualty insurance complications that could arise, and the greater risk of litigation when a vehicle owned by a trust is involved in an accident.
Each scenario is different. You will need to discuss the risk and benefits of moving your vehicles into your trust with your estate attorney to learn whether it is a good option for you.
The couple’s attorney strongly advised against moving their individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401k plans into the trust. He explained that doing so could result in serious negative tax consequences.
It may make sense to name the trust as a primary or contingent beneficiary of a retirement account in some very limited circumstances. However, you would need to discuss with your attorney the risk and benefits of this strategy and weigh the tax consequences against the potential risk of lawsuits, divorces, bankruptcies, or other creditors of the beneficiaries.
Life Insurance and Annuities
Quincey and Jaide named the trust as the primary beneficiary for their life insurance and annuity investments. That way, the trust could control and protect the proceeds of these policies. They named each other as the secondary beneficiaries, followed by their children as contingent beneficiaries for each investment. They obtained the beneficiary designation forms from their insurance agent. There was an online form available, but the couple preferred the paper version. If they had used the online form, they could have printed the form to PDF or taken a screenshot of it for their records.
Other Assets They May Transfer Into Their Trust
Quincey and Jaide are trying to save their family from the probate process, so they are looking for any additional types of property they might move into the trust. Some other assets that they might consider moving to their trust include:
- Health savings accounts
- Mortgages, loans, promissory notes, or other receivables
- College savings accounts (529 plans)
- Business interests such as LLCs, partnerships, sole proprietorships, or small business stock
- Digital assets, such as income streams from online content, such as blogs or social media channels
- Royalties from books or art, such as music or recorded performances
- Trademarks and copyrights
Each asset has special characteristics that must be considered when moving them into a trust. Though it is a complicated process, we can help you establish your trust and fund your trust with your assets. We can also help you choose and prepare your successor trustee.
You can schedule a call with us or reach us directly at 855.631.3457 to learn more about how best to plan today to protect those most important to you.