An old trust needs maintenance. If it has been more than 5 years since the trust was reviewed, time to find it and prepare for a visit to an attorney’s office.
- Make the appointment.
- Put it on the calendar for yourself, anyone who created the trust with you, and the trustees.
- Gather information about your assets. What you own may have changed since you created the trust. For each asset, determine who the institution shows as the owner (although the statement has the acronym JTWROS is the account really held jointly or is it in the trust?), the beneficiary, and the current value.
- Review trustees—who is in charge, and who will be in charge?
- Review beneficiaries—who will benefit from the trust after your death?
- Consider your goals—do you want the same people to benefit; do you want to encourage education; do you need to protect the beneficiaries from themselves, their creditors, or their third marriages?
If your trust was created in another state, it is still worthwhile to see a local attorney. Local attorneys can work with you to fund your trust with your new home and accounts. A trust that is not used and has no assets is not funded. An unfunded trust is confusing, difficult, and expensive for survivors to manage.
Tax laws have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. An old trust may be simplified if tax planning is no longer necessary.
After the death of a spouse and before a remarriage, old trusts may need to be clarified, subdivided, or assets allocated.
Life changes, and the old trust can keep pace with the changes. Meet with a lawyer to keep your estate plan effective.