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What can I do to ensure that my living trust is honored?

One of the main reasons individuals elect to set up a living trust is to ensure that their assets can be passed on to their loved ones per their wishes without having to go through probate.

Setting up one can also serve as an easier way for an individual to manage his or her assets if he or she becomes incapacitated. It also can ensure that the beneficiaries of the trust maintain a certain decorum long after you're gone in order to continue receiving payouts from it.

Taking time to meet with an attorney to set up a living trust is only one preliminary step in the living trust creation process.

The second, and perhaps most important step, is referred to as "funding a trust". It involves taking the assets you've decided to place into the trust and actually transferring ownership of them over to it.

If you plan to transfer real estate to the living trust, then you'll need to go through the process of having the property titled in the trust's name instead of your own.

The same logic applies if you have financial instruments like either brokerage, banking or retirement accounts that you wish to turn over to the trust fund. With bank accounts, you'll need to set up a new account in the trust's name to house the funds. If you have investment accounts, then you'll have to change your beneficiaries listed to reflect the trust as your new designee.

Without taking time to follow both steps listed above, your trust is likely to carry very little weight in the eyes of the courts.

If you're considering setting up a living trust and want to make sure that it is done so correctly, then a Los Angeles probate and estate administration attorney can provide guidance along the way.

Source: Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley Journal, "Myths Concerning the Revocable Living Trust," Marlene S. Cooper, Nov. 08, 2017

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