If you have significant assets and wish to protect them from the probate process, then you have probably considered using some form of trust to accomplish this goal. As any estate planning attorney can tell you, employing a trust has many attractive benefits, but those benefits may never be realized if you do not do your part as the creator of the trust to fund it properly.
Funding a trust is the process of legally placing assets in the ownership of the trustee of the trust. If you create a trust and fail to do this, you may actually end up incurring unnecessary costs without enjoying the benefits of the trust you created.
If, for instance, you create some form of trust to avoid or mitigate probate upon death, but fail to ever transfer your property to the trust, probate is still waiting at the door. Your beneficiaries will not have the protections you intended them to have, because you didn’t properly re-title the assets you wished to protect to the trustee.
In this scenario, your beneficiaries still suffer the process of dealing with probate, which at least takes a frustrating amount of time and at worst may deplete your resources. Furthermore, you have invested in the cost of creating the trust and it cannot protect your loved ones. It is not enough to simply create your trust, you must properly move assets in order to enjoy all of the benefits any trust can offer.
If you believe that your estate plan may have some weaknesses, or if you simply need to ensure that all details are correct, it is always wise to consult with an experienced attorney. With proper guidance from an experienced attorney, you can ensure that your wishes are made known and your rights remain secure.
Source: Florida Today, “Improperly funded trusts can be very costly,” Stephen Lacey and Brooke M. Benzio, May 15, 2017