Estate Planning Pitfall: You Didn’t Retitle Assets to be Included in a Trust

Using a trust as part of your estate plan can be beneficial in a number of ways, including maximizing tax code provisions to shield assets from gift and estate taxes, protecting assets from creditors or ex-spouses, or helping heirs be more responsible with their inheritance.

Revocable living trusts can be a vital part of your estate plan, but in order to help you, they can’t just be drafted and forgotten. A trust needs to be properly funded, including additions that are warranted. If you don’t move certain assets (such as cash, securities, real estate, artwork, and other types of property) into the trust before you pass away, the trust will not serve the purpose you intended in your estate plan.

If you are making a trust part of your estate plan and have already made the necessary arrangements, be sure to retitle assets in the name of the trust. This may be easier said than done, and depending on the type of asset, specific requirements will need to be met. Simply transferring assets to a trust is not enough. A transfer of ownership of real estate, for example, typically requires you to jump through extra hoops.

If you do not retitle assets, they will fall outside the scope of the trust and will have to go through probate like other assets that are in your name. Depending on the state you live in, the probate process often costs a lot of time and money and opens up the assets to public inspection. You also won’t gain the benefits of using a trust for those assets unless they are transferred into the trust according to the provisions of your will.

For help with trusts or other parts of your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.