I spend a lot of time helping client “fund” their living trusts. My policy to to have a separate funding meeting at which we complete all of the funding forms. That means filling out many, many change of beneficiary forms. Filling these out is numbing and not real fun, but it’s necessary for the trust to work right (avoid probate).
I often brag that if I drafted a trust for a client, there has never been a probate afterward. What a claim to fame. Truth be told, there are always some assets in a person’s own name at death, but in Illinois we are lucky to be able to transfer $100,000 or less of assets to a trust after a death without opening a probate. This is done by small estate affidavit. It’s a quick, easy way to mop up assets left in a deceased’s own name and only costs about $100 to prepare. Thank Ja for the small estate affidavit .
There are some items that do not go in to a living trust:
1. IRAs. Retirement accounts are not retitled to a trust. The trust is sometimes (rarely) the beneficiary of the IRA, but the IRA is never retitled to the trust.
2. Cars. Cars do not cause a probate and can be transferred using a small estate affidavit easily. Not necessary to put a car in the trust. In fact, it’s a waste of money to do so. Same goes for mobile home titles and motorcycles.
3. Stock Options. Some lucky clients have these, but most companies will not let you retitle the account to a trust. Some have a beneficiary form, but very few.
4. Internet bank accounts. I have found that several internet banks will not let clients put their accounts in a living trust. This is crazy, but the only cure it to close to account and open it at a brick and mortar bank.
5. Cemetery Plots. These little devils are not deeded like regular real estate. The titles are just the contract with the company owning the cemetery. No need to try to put it in the trust.
6. International real estate. Many clients own real estate in the UK or India. Real estate in another country cannot go in the living trust.