After your revocable living trust is drawn up by the attorney, and properly signed by you, and witnessed – then you begin the process of individually re-titling each of your assets into the name of the trust. What this means is that your trust has a name, like “John Doe Revocable Living Trust”, and you put each of your assets into the name of the trust. You absolutely still have control over everything you own – because you are the trustee of your revocable living trust while you are alive. [When you die, the successor trustee you named in your trust then takes over management and presumably distribution of your assets.] Re-titling your various assets is very time-consuming. I did this with the trust we established for my mother – and I’m about to start doing it for myself. Don’t forget to also change the beneficiary name on your life insurance policy to the trust – that way if whoever you had previously named as a beneficiary happens to die with you in the same accident (for example), then the life insurance payout can still be distributed with the rest of the assets in your estate.
As I mentioned, I am not an attorney or any kind of expert on estate planning. I just gave you basically a good overview of what I just went through in dealing with my own revocable living trust (and also having gone through it a year or so ago with respect to my mother). Your situation might be different. If you are worth more than $2M, then you have additional considerations and options available to you – and estate tax planning becomes more of an issue. Regardless of your asset situation, seek out a good estate planning attorney, and see what your options are. Your family and loved ones will appreciate a faster, easier, and less expensive settlement – and will allow them the opportunity to simply deal with the grief of your loss versus the potential pain and anguish that a lengthy probate proceeding could bring. Do everyone a favor – get your affairs in order now while you can!
In conclusion, I wanted to warn everyone about what you might read after doing an internet search on “revocable living trust”. Most of the sites I encountered from such a search are actually trying to sell you something … like legal advice, or forms, or do-it-yourself type sites (which charge a fee). Be very careful about what advice you see on the internet on this subject – as it might be biased toward selling you something. The most neutral article I could find was on a site called investopedia.com. Below is a link to an article that explains living trusts pretty well, and also has related links on various subjects.
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