I was recently speaking with a couple from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee following one of our educational events who asked whether the trust they put in place 10 years ago is still effective and will avoid probate for their family. I explained to this family that it may depend upon whether their life circumstances have changed since you first put your trust in place. However, I also discussed with this married couple that you can not just sign a trust document and have all of your assets avoid probate. You work is not yet completed. You also need to fund the trust with all of your assets.
I discussed with this couple that everything that you own in your name at your death must pass through probate, even if you have a last will and testament when die. I explained that this includes any real estate that you own in this state, as well as any other state. However, I also explained to this couple that we also need to make sure that certain financial assets are retitled out of your name and into the name of this trust.
I discussed with this couple that this includes stocks, bonds, and mutual funds that you own in your name. I explained that the process of retitling these assets includes working with your financial advisor and that instead of owning these assets in your own name, you would now own them John and Jane Doe, Trustee of the John and Jane Doe Revocable Living Trust. I explained that if you died and these assets were properly retitled then these assets would immediately pass to your loved ones according to customized provisions of this trust without having to go through all the delays and costs associated with a long and lengthy probate proceeding.
In addition, I explained to this couple that one of the reasons that our clients love working with our office is that we handle all of the retitling of the assets into the name of the trust for them so that everything is completed within five to six weeks.