There are several ways to avoid probate, but most methods have pitfalls; the revocable living trust is usually your best bet to avoid pitfalls and totally avoids probate, when fully funded. If you want to avoid probate, call our office for a consultation.
The Key to Avoiding Probate with Trust-Based Planning
The absolute key to avoiding probate with trust-based planning is to FULLY FUND your trust. This means that all of your assets subject to the probate process are titled in the name of your trust.
Examples of Assets to be Funded into Your Trust
You must fund your real estate, investment accounts, bank accounts, and personal property into your trust. Your estate planning attorney will show you how to fund.
Remember Beneficiary Designation Assets
Your life insurance, retirement accounts, pensions, and annuities need to be payable either to specific individuals or your trust; they must not be payable to your estate. Assets payable to your estate may cause the need for a court probate case. Be especially aware of retirement accounts. Improper handling may cause unnecessary taxation.
What a Funded Asset Looks Like
When funding your trust, it’s important not only to request the change in title, but to also confirm that the change to the name of your trust was actually made. If you get a letter or financial statement and it has a title something like this, it’s funded (it’s also important that the letter be signed by a person, not just an unsigned form):
Mickey D. Mouse and Minnie D. Mouse, trustees of the Mickey D. Mouse Living Trust, , dated November 15, 2011.
If the title is:
Mickey D. Mouse
Mickey D. Mouse and Minnie D. Mouse,
the trust is NOT funded.
If you wish to avoid probate, which in California is expensive, time consuming, a hassle, and a public process, a revocable living trust may be right for you. Call our San Diego estate planning office at (858) 792-5988 for a consultation.