Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today's Probate Answers

Does a Living Trust avoid a Death Probate?

Yes. All assets transferred to a living trust completely avoid the probate process, both during your life and at your death. Living trusts are not new. They’ve been successfully used in one form or another since the Middle Ages. Both then and now, the living trust has required that the owner of assets transfer title from his or her name to the name of trust. This really means changing the title to your property. For real property, it means you will sign a new deed. For other assets, you sign special transfer documents changing ownership to the name of your trust. Once the process is complete, all your assets will be owned by the trust. Almost nothing will be owned by you personally. Your living trust has title to the assets, but don’t worry, you, or you and your spouse if you’re married, have complete control of the trust while you’re alive. You can amend the trust or even revoke it whenever you like. But when you die, there are no assets in your name so there’s no need to go through probate. The trust already has your written instructions directing your hand picked agent, the successor trustee, about how you want your estate distributed.

With a living trust, there’s no need for “help” from the probate court or probate lawyers. Your trust will completely eliminate these unnecessary costs. Moreover, your estate can be distributed instantly at your death. There are no judges to consult or bureaucrats to please. Your trustee merely follows your instructions in distributing your estate according to your wishes.

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