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The Importance of Asset Alignment
Establishing a trust is a great first step toward planning for your future and protecting your family. However, if you haven’t taken the step to have your assets aligned, it may be as good as having done nothing at all. After meeting with your estate planning attorney and drawing up the paperwork establishing your trust, it’s now time to begin transferring over your assets. Aligning your assets can be a complicated process but it is necessary to ensure your family’s future.
Why Asset Alignment Is So Important
If you haven’t fully funded your revocable living trust, then you’re leaving your family unprotected, plain and simple. Here are a few reasons why it’s so important to ensure your assets are aligned:
- Your assets may need to go through probate. Any assets that you haven’t retitled into your trust will be subject to probate court. Since one of the main benefits of creating a living trust is to avoid probate, not transferring the assets over defeats the purpose of the trust.
- Your assets might not end up with your intended beneficiaries. Any assets that aren’t part of your trust (or another arrangement such as a will) can’t be passed along to your intended beneficiaries. They may be subject to the judgment of the court.
- Your trustee cannot manage assets that haven’t been transferred to your trust. Your appointed trustee is responsible for overseeing all the assets in your trust and ensuring that they go to your intended beneficiaries after your pass. If your assets aren’t fully aligned, this means that certain assets will not be allowed to be managed by your trustee and could end up going to someone you didn’t want to receive them.
How to Align Your Assets
There are several steps to take when it comes to asset alignment, but the most important is making ownership and beneficiary changes. In conjunction with your estate planning attorney, you will change the title of most of your assets from your name to the name of your trust. This is known as making ownership changes. For certain assets, such as life insurance and retirement accounts, you will need to change to the name of your beneficiary, not necessarily to the name of the trust.
Numerous documents are involved in this process, and you typically will need to execute new documents of title, deeds to real property, signature cards for bank accounts, and change of beneficiary forms for retirement plans and insurance policies. Your estate planning attorney can help you with all these documents.
Once you’ve fully aligned your assets, it’s important to review your estate plan every two to three years. Births and deaths in your family may affect who you want to receive your assets. In addition, a change in your net worth or the tax law may necessitate altering your plan.
Contact The Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm
At The Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm, we’ve been helping families secure peace of mind for over 20 years. Helping you in planning for your future and protecting your family is our specialty. Contact the estate planning attorneys of The Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm today and start putting your future first.