You wouldn’t let your children get on their bicycles with only half a helmet; their protection is your number one goal. Yet many people make the mistake of leaving significant portions of their inheritable assets unshielded by the the trust they create. Even celebrities like Michael Jackson fall victim to estate planning lawyers that fail to do their utmost to see their assets (and, thus, their inheritors) protected.
If you have worked with another law office to set up your trust, it is imperative that your take another look at how your trust is set up. Did your previous lawyer assist in establishing the trust and then walk away? Without their further instruction about transferring assets into the trust, it may now be no more than an empty shell—sturdy, but with nothing to protect. Worse yet, a totally unfunded trust fails completely, meaning all that planning is completely undone just when your family needs it most. For your children to receive what they deserve, you must do everything possible to avoid probate.
Transferring Assets into a Trust
Different types of assets must be addressed in varying ways and is often challenging to those unfamiliar with the process. To be certain of your assets’ security, the input of an experienced estate planning attorney is essential. Here’s a basic outline that should help you start a conversation with your attorney about how to avoid probate conflicts:
A trip to your local county clerk’s office is required to file a new deed in the name of the trust and to see that it is properly recorded.
Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
Your broker, investment counselor, or transfer agent should be able to help you here. Fill out the documents they provide and run them by your attorney to make sure that the trust is properly identified as the beneficiary.
The Federal Reserve Bank allows you to reissue and re-title the bonds in the name of your trust. See their form, here.
You will need to close all existing accounts and provide for the transfer of their assets into a new trust account. Your broker should be able to provide the form you need.
Your company’s transfer agent will need to receive a ‘stock power’ form in order to transfer the certificates into your trust. A copy of your W-9 with your tax ID number is typically required.
Bank accounts, CDs
All accounts must be re-established in the name of your trust. CD’s can be particularly difficult due to many banks’ requirements that any transfer occur after their maturity date. However, you will be able to mark them ‘in trust for’ a beneficiary and conduct the transfer once the CD has matured.
How I can help you avoid probate
Your children and other beneficiaries deserve to receive everything they are due—that means they must avoid probate conflicts. With the help of an experienced and conscientious estate planning attorney, you can plan for the financial security of yourself and your family. At my office, I pride myself on my attention to my clients both before and after they’ve signed all of their documents. I stay engaged and conduct routine follow up to ensure the maximum has been done to see you properly protected.
You can learn more about how a trust might benefit you and your family by calling us to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family. Call today at 612-206-3701 or reach out via our online contact form for your free consultation.
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