Trusts are a great estate planning tool. They can avoid the time and cost drain of probate and they ensure your heirs receive their benefit as you desire.
But if a trust isn’t set up correctly and the procedure isn’t followed, there can be serious consequences. The trust could be invalidated thus negating all the time and money spent to set up the trust in the first place.
It’s supremely important to choose a trusted estate planning attorney to guide you and ensure you are following procedure. The following are common trust mistakes to avoid.
In order for a trust to be valid, it must be funded. This is called the trust corpus. Without anything in the trust, it is not a valid trust. The trust can hold many kinds of property:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
Every trust must have a trustee. While you’re alive, that trustee can be you, if you so choose. Regardless of who the trustee is, there must be instructions for the trustee to follow. These can include:
- Payment schedules
- Investment account management
Without instructions for the trustee to follow, the trust could be invalid leaving all of your hard work and time with nothing to show for it. This is why it’s important to consult with an estate planning attorney.
It’s also important to choose a trustee you can trust. It makes sense. If you choose a trustee with financial issues or a friend to be your trustee, you could be asking for trouble. We recommend using a financial institution. While they will charge you a bit more, you get the peace of mind know that your trust is in good hands and trustee is protected with insurance. This is great to have in case anything goes wrong or the trustee conducts some shady business with your trust.
A trust must name the beneficiaries and what trust property they should receive. You cannot simply create a trust and not have the property in the trust go anywhere when you die. A trust must specifically name beneficiaries, which could be you and your spouse.
Review and update
Failing to review and update your trust is just as bad as not funding the trust. When you make a new purchase and you want to leave it to an heir, it won’t avoid probate unless you title it in the trust. This can be a costly mistake which is why we suggest an annual review with your attorney. Just like you visit the doctor every year, you can visit us every year to make sure your trust is still in tip top shape.
Consulting with an estate planning advisor
By consulting with on of the best trust lawyers in Phoenix, AZ offers for your trust needs, you ensure you are guided by a skilled individual who is looking out for your best interests. They can review your current estate plan and make recommendations, based on your goals, for how they can help improve.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into estate planning.