Estate Planning Could Continue Well After Documents Are Signed

By Justin S. Eppler

Anchorage residents who decide to make plans to provide for their families after their deaths may believe their job is done once the documents are signed. That could be true in some cases, but if an individual’s estate planning included a trust, more work needs to be done. An empty trust does not accomplish his or her goals.

It is necessary to transfer assets into the trust that a person intends for the beneficiaries of the trust. This is most often done three ways. The title of an asset can be changed, the beneficiary designation of an asset can be changed or ownership rights could be transferred to the trust. Which avenue is taken depends on the asset in question.

For instance, the title of the home would change from the individual to the trust. The ownership of assets such as artwork, jewelry and other valuables could transfer to the trust. The beneficiary of life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other similar assets could be changed to the trust. These actions will take time to complete once all the assets that should go into the trust are identified. Any assets acquired after the signing of the trust could be put directly into the trust in order to reduce the number of steps required to do so.

The truth is that estate planning does not end with signing the documents. A trust, along with other documents, requires periodic review to make sure that it still meets the goals and wishes of an Anchorage resident. In some cases, this includes adding and removing assets from a trust. The important part is to make sure that assets get into the trust so that they do not have to through probate and are readily available for surviving family members when the time comes.