Trust – this document is a contract you enter into with yourself. It holds property – usually for you own benefit while you are alive and for the benefit of others at your death or incapacity. A trust is created by a “settlor” (that’s you!), who transfers some or all of his property to a “trustee” who holds that trust property for the benefit of the “beneficiaries.” At first, you will play all three roles. The trust is revocable (changeable by you) during your lifetime. It is a “living” trust because it does not die like humans do, and therefore whatever assets it holds before your death do not go to probate.
Special Gifts List of Personal Property– This holographic codicil to a Will allows you to amend the Will in your own handwriting over the years without the need for witnesses or notaries.
Pour-over Will – Everyone who has a trust should also have a pour-over-will. For those with minor children, this is a very important document. For the rest of us, its’ only a back-up plan in the event that you forget to put an asset in your trust before you die. Whatever you forget “pours-over” to your trust and follows your instructions there. If you have children under the age of 18, then this is the document where you will appoint guardians for them.
Durable Power of Attorney for Finance – This document allows you to name someone to act on your behalf with regard to all of your financial, business and legal affairs in the event of your incapacity. They are called your attorney-in-fact.
Certification of Trust – This document is a summary of what a financial institution would want to know about your trust, such as the name of the trust, the date of the trust, and the names of the parties involved in the trust. The purpose of this document is to protect your privacy and help answer questions from a financial institution when you open an account inside of your trust.
Schedule of Assets: Inside and Outside the Trust – It is important that you keep your Schedule of Assets document (Schedule A) up-to-date for two reasons: (1) It informs your new trustee where your assets may be found (so they don’t overlook some), and (2) if an asset is for whatever reason not properly placed in the name of the trust, the new trustee could ask the court to place the item listed into your Trust and avoid the full probate process. In order to avoid tax liability, some assets do not belong in the trust. These include any and all retirement and employment related accounts such as 401K plans.
Letter to Successor Trustees – This letter should be sent to each of your successor trustees so they are aware that you have named them.
Funding Instructions – This document gives you general instructions on how to “fund” your trust. Funding is transferring title to your assets into the name of the Trust after you create it. If assets are left outside the trust, they may be subject to probate.
Deed – This document transfers “whatever interest you may have” in real property to your trust. The deed should be recorded with the Recorder’s Office in the County in which the property is located.
Preliminary Change of Ownership Report – This form must be completed and mailed with your deed at the time of recordation. Failure to do so correctly could result in your real property being reassessed and your property taxes skyrocketing.
Cover Letter to Recorder’s Office – This is the letter to accompany your deed and Preliminary Change of Ownership Report when you mail it to be recorded.
Assignment of Sole Proprietorship to Trust – If you own a business and have never created a Corporation or LLC, then this document assigns your business to your trust.
Assignment of Personal Property to Trust –This document assigns your household furnishings, jewelry, clothing and other personal property of any kind to your trust.
Powers of Attorney for Childcare – Since the Will does not become effective until death, it can be helpful to name Guardians of your minor children in the event of your incapacity or if you need someone to care for them temporarily (for example, while you are on vacation).
Powers of Attorney for Medical Care of a Minor– This document enables the Guardians that you name in your Will to provide your children with necessary medical care.
HIPAA Release – This document waives the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act so that the person you name as your agent in your Advance Healthcare Directive can communicate with your doctor.
Letter to change Ownership of Financial Account to Trust – This letter can be customized for each of your financial accounts in order to request that they transfer ownership to your trust. Never use this letter for retirement accounts.
Letter to Change Ownership of Stock to Trust – This letter can be customized for each of your stock holders in order to request that they transfer ownership to your trust. You may need to change title on the stock certificates themselves. Never use this letter for retirement accounts.
Assignment of Stock to Trust – This document “assigns” your stock to your trust, but an assignment may not be sufficient. If stock certificates exist, you must reissue the stock.
Sample Stock Certificate – This is a sample stock certificate so you know what to look for when you are reissuing stock. Usually the corporate President and Secretary have authority to reissue stock. If you don’t have blank stock certificates, you can usually buy them at office supply stores.
Letter to add Trust as Additional Insured on Homeowners – This letter prevents your homeowner’s insurance from arguing that “there was no loss to you” when you make a future claim because you had transferred your assets to a trust and they did not insure the trust.
Letter to Life Insurance to Change Owner and Beneficiary – This letter can be customized for each of your life insurance policies in order to request that they transfer ownership to your trust and that they change the beneficiary to be your trust. If you prefer to have your life insurance pass estate tax free on your death, consider setting up an irrevocable life insurance trust instead.
Letter to Change Beneficiary of Employee Death Benefit – This letter can be customized for each of your employee death benefits, so your employers can change the beneficiary to be your trust.
Letter to Change Beneficiary of Retirement Account– This letter can be customized for each of your retirement accounts in order to request that they change the beneficiary of your retirement account to match your estate plan wishes. Since retirement plans grow tax deferred, there may be tax consequences if you name your trust as beneficiary. Consult an attorney about the tax consequences if you’re not sure.
Assignment of LP or LLP (Limited Partnership) – This document assigns any interest you may have in a Limited Liability Partnership to your trust. Your partnership agreement sets forth the requirements and limitations of transfer. You must follow the rules of your operating agreement.
Letter to Assign Promissory Note – If someone owes you money, it should be in writing (a promissory note). This document assigns your interest in the promissory note to your trust.
Assignment of Stock Options to Trust – If you own stock options, this assignment can be used to transfer them to your trust. Ideally, you would be able to do so through the company who gave you the options. You should approach them for a change of ownership form, if they have one.
What to do with Internet-based Assets – This form asks you to identify your online assets and passwords. It is intended to assist your designated representative by providing information in the event of your death or incapacity.
Illegible Notary Declaration – Often a blurry notary seal can be considered “illegible” by the county recorder where the document (usually a deed) is being recorded. In that case, you will want the notary to sign this form and attach it to the illegible notarization.
Estate Organizer Forms – The information you provide on these pages will be very helpful to the next person in charge of your estate or trust. These pages are optional and may be completed by you at your leisure, or not at all. Keep this important information with your other estate planning documents and inform the next person in charge where to find them.
Written Instructions for each of the forms are also included.