One big reason that people draw up revocable living trusts is that they want to avoid the probate process. Probate is a court-supervised process that can take several months, or even years, to complete. Then your will is a matter of public record for everyone to see. None of this happens when you set up a revocable living trust.
How Do You Set Up a Trust?
As the person setting up the trust, you will be the “grantor” or the “settlor.” This means that you will be the one funding the trust. You will also have a trustee and a beneficiary, but you may name yourself for both positions.
How Do You Fund the Trust?
When you set up the trust, you will make a trust agreement. After this has been signed, you can begin to fund your trust. This will entail transferring and retitling assets so that the trust now owns them. Assets that can be held within a trust include retirement accounts, real estate, life insurance policies and annuities. Since you will also be the trustee, you will be able to manage the assets however you like. If you name other beneficiaries, they will take possession of the property after you pass away.
Avoiding the Probate Process
When you set up a living trust, the trust becomes the owner of the property in the trust, but this is for the benefit of the beneficiaries. That is the reason that your beneficiaries do not have to go through the probate process to have your property transferred to them. The property is not in your name, so probate is not necessary.
COVID and Estate Planning
The pandemic made everyone start to think about what will happen after they pass away. Many people have died because of COVID, and the people around them are contacting estate planning lawyers about their own end-of-life decisions.
Sometimes, you can create a living trust entirely online. The state government has forms you can use to place your assets into a trust, but you can also have your attorney draw up the documents. This is a great option for you if you have a limited number of assets and few beneficiaries.
Doing this job yourself has advantages. For example, it isn’t as costly to draw up your trust online, and you will receive your documents in less time. However, there are also things you must consider. These online documents will not be notarized, and you will not receive any important legal advice online. In most cases, your documents are going to need to have witnesses, and they will need to be notarized. You can have your online document notarized, but this tends to take a long time.
Advancements in Notarization
Some states do not require you to notarize your trusts. You will be able to sign your trust now, but when it is safe to do so, you will be able to have it notarized. Unfortunately, you cannot do this if you are placing real estate in your trust. Real estate needs to be recorded in the registry of deeds.
If you are drawing up a will, you may not need to have it notarized. An estate planning lawyer notarizes all wills, but your state doesn’t necessarily require it. If you decide not to notarize your will, your estate may need to prove that the will is valid. This can be done by having the witnesses sign in front of a notary when the time comes.
The pandemic is causing people to come up with new ways of notarizing documents. In some states, you may notarize your documents electronically. In Massachusetts, if an estate planning lawyer is also a notary, he or she may notarize documents and sign wills online during the pandemic.
If you would like to speak to an estate planning attorney, contact the Knee Law Firm in Hackensack, New Jersey. Call us at (201) 996-1200.