Berman & Asbel, LLP

Viability of a living trust depends on proper funding

Planning with a long-term goal in mind is not the luxury that many people seem to think it is. A living trust serves as one example of this. It really is a practical thing. What it takes is an appreciation of one's current situation and a view of how you want to deliver the greatest benefit to your possible beneficiaries in the most cost effective way.

Finding the right way to do that may seem complicated, but it can be handled more deftly in Pennsylvania through smart estate planning. And you can enjoy greater confidence that it's been done correctly by consulting with an attorney with the appropriate skill and experience.

As we have said in previous posts, there are different types of trusts. The living trust is a tool that can be used by you as the creator to see that certain assets get distributed to beneficiaries without the funds having to go through probate, where they might be whittled away to pay debts after your death.

But a living trust isn't worth much if it doesn't get funded and the process of transferring the assets into it can sometimes be tricky.

Generally, there are two ways to feed a living fund. Which one you decide to use will depend on the nature of the assets you want to transfer and when you want the transfer to take place.

If you own the asset under a title, you may want to direct it into the trust now, while you're living. Then you'll need to transfer the title into the name of your selected beneficiary. Items that could fall into this category might include vehicles, real estate, and any financial accounts you may hold.

The other option possible would be to fund the trust through what's called a pour-over will. This scenario plays out upon your death.

Any assets that haven't been assigned to heirs are poured over into the trust. From there it can be used in accordance with your wishes. The downside in this model is that it doesn't avoid probate.

Source: FindLaw, "How Do I Put Money and Other Assets in a Living Trust?" accessed June 19, 2015

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