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Funding your living trust…

Funding Your Living Trust

This blog entry explains the vital concept of funding your living trust, including explanation of the process and why it is so important.

What does “funding” mean when it comes to living trust?

In order to understand the concept of funding, imagine your trust as an empty box.  In order to avoid probate, we must fill the box with all of your assets, i.e. we must fund your living trust.  When you sign your living trust at our office, the box will be empty.  So, our job is to both help you fund the living trust for some of your assets and instruct you as to how to fund the remaining assets into the trust box.  This process is where attention to detail plays a major role.  We provide the details and make it easy for you.

How does a living trust get funded?

The process is relatively straightforward and depends on the types of assets you have.  However, the assets that must be funded in your living trust are your titled assets, i.e. real estate, bank accounts, IRA and 401(K) retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, cars, boats and trailers.  Basically anything with a title or that is set up as an account with a financial institution.
We also need to fund your personal property…everything not listed above, including furniture, jewelry, tools, clothing.  We draft a document that handles this aspect of funding.

How does Legacy Law Center help me with funding my living trust?

Our firm always funds

1.  Your home(s) / real property

2.  Your personal property

Your home(s) and other real property are funded by the drafting and recording of deeds.  We draft the documents, you sign them, we record them, we mail them to you once they are recorded.  Done.  If you have three homes, we draft and record three deeds.  Not a problem.

We also handle the funding of your personal property – everything you own that does not have a title – jewelry, tools, furniture, keepsakes, art, sporting goods, clothing, photos…basically everything in your house.

Your personal property is funded into your living trust with a document that we draft and you sign the day you sign your living trust.

What about funding everything else into my living trust?

For everything else, you will need to do a little bit of legwork.  But don’t fret.  We will provide detailed instructions on how to fund everything into your living trust, including your retirement accounts (401K / IRA / Roth IRA), regular investment and securities accounts, your bank accounts and any other types of titled assets like certificated stocks, savings bonds, boats / trailers / airplanes.  If you have a financial advisor, they can also help you with the instructions and make it easy.  If necessary, we’ll call your financial advisor from our office and set up an appointment for you to meet with them to handle the paperwork for those accounts.

And we keep an eye on you after you have signed the documents at our office.  We’ll call a couple of months later to see if everything has been funded and the trust box is full with all of your assets.  If not, we can help you complete the process. More than likely, however, the trust box will be full and we’ll be congratulating on a job well done.

Changing an estate plan…

Changing Estate Plan





I spend a good amount of time each month reviewing existing estate plans of former clients and non-clients. Very often the estate plans I am reviewing are those of    a pair of empty nest parents, who want me to review the wills they created when their first born child was born. This is a very common scenario and I applaud these people for understanding that their estate plan needs change over time.

Here are just a few examples of when it’s a good idea to have your estate plan reviewed.

1. Your old plan was drafted when you either had no children or before all of your children were born.  This is a common scenario and one in which we need to change your estate plan, as we want to make sure no one is accidentally cut out of your estate by reason of being born after you created your estate plan.

2.  You have created significantly more wealth since your initial estate plan.  This is a good problem to have, but one in which we need to make sure your estate plan still accounts for having a larger estate.  Chances are it doesn’t.

3.  We have a family member with special needs.  Means tested benefits such as Medicaid and Social Security can be lost if a child or other designated beneficiary has special needs but receives an inheritance which disqualifies them from the benefits.  The fix for that is called a Special Needs Trust.  If you have a beneficiary who has special needs, you need to review your existing estate plan to make sure the disability they have is properly planned for and incorporated into your estate plan.

4.   You have since divorced.  Statistically, half of the marriages in this country end up in divorce.  So there are a lot of broken estate plans sitting around.  There are also beneficiary designations which need to be changed.

5.  The people you named to be in charge are no longer in good health or you have lost touch.  Twenty and thirty year old estate plans often run into this problem.  If you created an estate plan that named your good friends as the guardians of your children or the executors of your estate and for whatever reason you are no longer good friends with those people, it’s time to make a change.  Maybe Aunt Phyllis is too old to be burdened with serving as your durable power of attorney.  Maybe your brother Greg, who used to be a bachelor with plenty of free time, can no longer serve as the trustee of your kid’s trust because he has kids of his own.  All of these scenarios are common and a major cause of needed changes to an estate plan.

Whatever the reason, it is important that your estate plan changes as your needs changes.  Our office will ordinarily review estate plans for free and can usually do so after reviewing the existing documents and a consultation.