Traditionally, estate planning was done on behalf of individuals who wished to make arrangements for the event of their death by qualified attorneys. Recently, more and more families are turning to online estate planning tools to prepare their estates. Many resources are available online that allow you to create your own estate planning documents, including a living trust, while saving a significant amount of money.
What is a living trust?
One of the types of estate planning tools available to individuals is a living trust. The creation of a living trust allows an individual’s assets to be placed into a trust during their lifetime in order to be disbursed after their death. The most significant benefit of creating a living trust is that it allows the assets within the trust to avoid probate, saving time and money.
To create a living trust, the trustor appoints a third party, known as a successive trustor, to manage the trust and distribute the assets contained within the trust after the trustor’s death. Once the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries, the trust is complete and ceases to exist.
What do I need to include in my living trust?
When preparing your own living trust, there are several crucial elements that you must include.
- First, you must name yourself as the trustor.
- Second, you must designate a trustee to manage the trust.
- Third, a successive trustee is named; this person will take over the trust once the trustor dies or becomes incapacitated.
Next, you must list all of the individuals that you wish to name as beneficiaries of the assets of the trust. Once all the parties are named, you will need to include all of the assets that will be in the trust and transfer ownership of the assets (real estate, bank accounts, etc.) to the trust using the proper legal documentation and following the procedure laid out by your state’s living trust and property transfer laws.
Finally, the trust deed will need to include detailed instructions for the trustor as to how the property is to be distributed to the beneficiaries and the extent of the authority the trustor has over the assets. Once complete, the trust will need to be signed, notarized, and in some instances, filed with the proper state office.
Living trusts can be created online using your choice of available estate planning templates. For simple living trusts, you can create your own by listing the trustor, trustee, beneficiaries and assets as well as detailing instructions and scope of authority for the trustor. All trusts must comply with estate planning laws, which vary by state. For more complex living trusts, consider consulting a qualified attorney.