What is a living trust?

Think of a living trust as being like a safe or your own Fort Knox that houses your personal assets. In that trust or “safe" are instructions that state exactly who is to distribute and receive your assets. The assets move privately and quickly to named heirs on your passing without the involvement of probate court. This is the main reason why most people prefer a living trust to a will—for privacy and non-involvement of the court. There is the "living" part of a living trust. Your trust assigns someone to make medical and financial decisions for you when you are incapacitated. Think of the trust as a written contingency plan for your life. Your trust also helps you when you are alive. 

What happens if you get sick?

Your trust will name someone to make financial and medical decisions for you until you get better. Because all the instructions are all there on paper, there is no need for probate to get involved. When you get better, you simply take over where you left off before you were sick.

Once the trust is set up, is it harder to control my accounts?

There is no difference at all with your accounts, as far as control is concerned, once you set up a trust. Your accounts will work that same as they did before you set up a trust. Co-trustees of a trust work the same way a joint checking account works. They can act independently or together.

How hard is it to put accounts and real estate into the trust?

Not hard at all. Most financial institutions have a simple form for you to fill out. You can also bring your trust to your bank(s) and they will do all the work for you. The Trust Pros will make new property deeds that transfer property to your trust.

Are there taxes for transferring a house into the trust?

There are no taxes at all, and transferring real estate into a trust does not affect Proposition 13. Why? You are not changing beneficial interest. You are going from yourself to yourself inside your trust. There are only tax issues if you transfer your real estate to a third party. Again, there are no county, state, or federal taxes for transferring property into a trust.

Once the trust is set up, do I have to do anything different with my tax filing?

Revocable living trusts are referred to as a grantor trust. The grantors are typically the owners of the revocable trust which means they can change or amend the trust by adding or adjusting beneficiaries or assets. Although this is uncommon, the grantor owners can also revoke the trust. Grantor trusts do not require a new tax ID nor do they require special forms. The income via any accounts placed in the trust is simply reported as earned income.

Can't I just put my spouse as a joint tenant on my property instead of getting a trust?

If you pass before your spouse, they could remarry and add their new spouse as a joint tenant. The house could end up going to their family. If you set up a trust, the home would go directly to whomever you named in the trust to receive the property, regardless of who dies first.

Don't you need to have a certain amount of money before considering setting up a trust?

If you have children, own a home, and do not want to be subject to the perils of probate, you should have a trust. If you want someone to make medical and financial decisions for you when you are sick without the courts, then you should have a living trust.

What happens when the trustees pass and what happens with taxes?

The trust can no longer be changed when the trustee owner passes away. Why? They are no longer here to make any new changes. The trust retains all the assets and income and these assets must be distributed per the terms laid out by the trust owner. The person who was chosen as the successor trustee (when the trust was set up) carries out the distribution instructions in the trust. It is at this time when a separate tax ID must be set up for the trust. If income is earned by the trust, a Form 1041 must be filed.

How quickly can a trust be set up?

The Trust Pros make it easy. There are two meetings in person, via Zoom, Skype Face-time or teleconference. Each one takes about an hour. Your trust can be turned around in less than a week if needed.

Why The Trust Pros?

Many companies out there offer multiple services and dabble with living trusts. This is all we do. Chances are that if you are reading this, you may already be aware that The Trust Pros is an award-winning legal document service with attorney-reviewed* living trusts. Our company is the only one including house calls and an attorney letter with your living trust package. Some banks are now asking for attorney letters to accompany each trust as proof that the trust is valid. This trend is a direct result of thousands of failed trusts set up by people who tried to make theirs on their own or from using online services.

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*Trusts in Atlanta are prepared by a Legal Document Assistant. 

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