PROPERTIES THAT ARE COMMONLY HELD IN TRUST
In its annual survey of how Americans carry out estate planning – whether they have a will or other heirship document in place – the website Caring.com has found that the percentage of people with just a simple will has been declining.
For those aged 35 to 54, the percentage with at least a will has declined from 37 in 2019 to 22.5 in 2021. The similar figures for those aged 55 and up are 60 percent then and 44 percent now.
In other words, more than half of all Americans, maybe even two-thirds, have not taken any concrete steps to plan for the future of their loved ones once they are gone.
A will is the basic building block of estate planning. Wills, however, require that the deceased’s estate go through a legal process known as probate, which can be lengthy and even costly.
An estate planning option to avoid probate is called a living trust. Trusts transfer assets outside of the courtroom and probate is avoided. However, people often wonder what kind of assets can be put in a trust. The simple answer is just about anything of value.
If you’re in or around Westerville, Ohio, and ready to begin estate planning, or you already have legal instruments in place such as a will or trust, you should contact The Law Office of David G. Bale. David Bale can review your existing estate planning documents, or he can sit with you and commence the process of creating an estate plan to take care of your loved ones.
In addition to Westerville, The Law Office of David G. Bale proudly serves clients in Worthington, New Albany, Delaware County, and Franklin County.
Benefits of a Trust
The primary benefit of a living trust, also known as a revocable trust, is that it accomplishes most of the same goals of a will – designating beneficiaries and distributing assets – but it does so outside of the courtroom. There is no probate needed when a living trust is established, so long as all assets of the estate are included in the trust or otherwise passed on to beneficiaries.
It's important to note that, even with just a will, some assets will transfer outside of probate proceedings. A life insurance policy or a retirement account with a designated beneficiary passes along to that person without the need for probate. Also, property held in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship transfers without probate.
Property or assets held solely in the name of the deceased are what becomes the estate that either needs to be probated or accounted for in a trust.
In a living trust, which can be modified or even canceled at any time, the grantor – or person creating the trust – names a successor trustee to manage the estate in the event of the grantor’s incapacitation or death. Before either of those events happens, the grantor remains the trustee fully in charge of his or her estate.
Properties Commonly Held in Trust
This leads us back to the question of what kind of assets can you put into a living trust, and again, the answer is just about anything with a cash value or even a personal value, such as an heirloom. Commonly included assets are:
Real property held in the decedent’s name and not in joint tenancy
Jewelry, antiques, furs, and valuable furniture
Stocks, bonds, and securities
Small business interest or shares in a corporation
Money market and bank accounts
Patents and copyrights
Valuable works of art
Collections of coins, stamps, or even baseball cards of value
If you hold title to property with someone outside of the family or heirs you are naming as beneficiaries in the trust, you can transfer your percent of interest in the property. If you’re involved in a business with others outside of your family circle, things can get a little trickier.
If you own shares in a closely held corporation, for instance, the bylaws may prevent you from continuing to have voting rights if you transfer your shares to the trust. If you’re part of a Limited Liability Company (LLC), you may have to get the permission of the other owners to transfer your interest to the trust.
What If You Forget to Include an Asset in Your Trust?
It’s often a good idea to have a will along with a trust. This is especially true if you have minor children and want to name a guardian for them. You cannot name a guardian in a trust, but you can in a will. Also, there is something called a “pour-over” will. With a pour-over will, any asset you neglected to include in your trust will pour over from the will into the trust.
Work With a Trusted Estate Planning Attorney
Setting up a living trust is not a simple do-it-yourself, download-an-online-form proposition. The preparation of a living trust involves a thorough survey of what you own and whom you wish to inherit what when you’re gone. It also needs to be carefully crafted to avoid any legal challenges down the road. For these reasons, you’ll definitely need the services of an experienced trust attorney.
The Law Office of David G. Bale is happy to offer a free consultation on your estate planning needs. David Bale proudly serves clients in and around Westerville, Ohio, in nearby Worthington and New Albany, and throughout Delaware County and Franklin County.