One of the primary benefits of creating an estate plan is taking a level of control over your future and how your assets will be distributed to your loved ones. An effective estate planning strategy for creating this type of control is a revocable living trust (also known as an inter vivos trust).
You create the trust during your lifetime and you have the right to amend, alter or revoke the trust while you are still alive.
When you pass on, the living trust enables your family to avoid the expense and delay of going through the probate process. This is accomplished by the fact that your assets are transferred to the trust and titled to ensure the assets are owned by the trust. Therefore, when you pass away, there is no need to get the probate courts involved since the trust is managing your assets.
Basic Steps You Need to Follow to Establish a Living Trust
To establish a living trust under Missouri law, you must do the following:
- Create the trust document, typically with the assistance of an experienced St. Charles estate planning attorney.
- Decide who will inherit the trust property
- Name yourself as the trustee (i.e. the person in charge).
- Sign the trust document in front of a notary public.
- “Fund” the trust, which basically means you transfer your property to the trust (since you are trustee, you maintain control over your assets).
Do I Still Need a Last Will and Testament?
Yes. Having a Last Will and Testament provides you with a safety net for any property that does not transfer into your trust. For example, if you acquire new property and forget to add it to your trust before you pass on, that property will not pass under the terms of your living trust document. If you do not have a will, the property not transferred to your living trust during your lifetime will likely go to your closest relatives, in accordance with Missouri law.
Thus, it is vitally important to create an overall estate plan that includes both the Revocable Living Trust and a Last Will and Testament that works with your Trust. This way you will be able to make sure that your estate is handled at your death in accordance with your wishes.
Can My Spouse and I Create a Living Trust Together?
Yes. A married couple has the ability to establish a joint revocable living trust. In Missouri, spouses may establish Qualified Spousal Trusts. This type of trust generally provides that while both spouses are alive, the trust income and principal will be paid to either or both of them in accordance with the trust directives. Any assets remaining in the trust after they pass will not have to go through probate.
Speak to an Experienced St. Charles Trust and Estate Lawyer Today
Properly establishing a living trust, making sure it is funded correctly, titling assets, etc. can get complicated. This is why you should have an experienced legal advisor assist you through the process. We are here to help. Polaris Law Group takes pride in offering an effective, full-service experience to our clients. If you want to ensure that you and your family are properly cared for, contact Polaris Law Group’s experienced trust and estate attorneys, Scott Stork and Raymond Chandler today.
Scott and Raymond are seasoned estate planning attorneys and are members of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Elder Counsel. Schedule a meeting by phone or by filling out a quick contact form today.