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You Don't Need to be a Millionaire to Need a Family Trust (Your Children Will Thank You)

Recently my husband and I traveled to Europe with some friends, leaving our two girls with family. It stressed me out because we didn't have a proper will in place and basically left a handwritten note stating what we wanted to happen to the kids if anything happened to us. Thank goodness nothing did, but it left me wondering what my options were when it came to creating a plan for them if something ever did happen to us. I started looking into how to create a will and came across the idea of creating a living trust instead.

The term "Trust" sounded a lot like something very wealthy people say, when referring to their millions of dollars they have and spoiled, Ivy-league-school-attending children that fight over them. I hadn't ever considered it as something that we would need until I watched the following video (it's short and VERY informative).

So the major difference between a Will and a Trust is that a Will takes effect after death, whereas a Trust takes effect while alive.

A Revocable Living Trust (Trust) is a legal document or “Living Entity” that allows an individual or couple to transfer ownership of real property and/or assets (such as a home, real estate, bank accounts, certificates of deposit, securities, life insurance, stocks, bonds, etc.) from personal ownership into the legal ownership of the trust. A Revocable Living Trust is just what the name implies, a document that is created during an individual or a couple’s life, but that can be changed or terminated at any time. A Trust allows you to decide who will receive your assets, how much they will receive, and when they receive it. A Trust allows you to choose your successor trustees, who your beneficiaries are and appoint guardians for any minor children.

Much of what I believed to be a Will, is actually what makes up a Trust. Wills don't transfer property upon death. Any real property where the owner (or owners) have passed away must go through probate to transfer the title to the named personal representative/executor. Upon realizing all of this, we decided to create a living trust.

Creating a Living Trust

Intimidated about taking on all of this on my own, I was very lucky to talk to the owner of Easy Legal Planning. They made the process very easy and we were able to create our trust in a month! It only required a few things:

1. Answering the following questions:

  • Who do you want to manage your money before you die?
  • Where you want your money to go?
  • Who do you want to care for your children?
  • Who do you want to make medical decisions for you, if you're unable to make them for yourself?
  • Who do you want to manage your money, if you're alive and unable to make financial decisions for yourself?

2. Figuring out what our assets are:

  • Real Estate
  • Bank Accounts
  • Life Insurance
  • Brokerage Accounts
  • Retirement Accounts
  • Personal Property and Business Interests or Partnerships

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3. Filling out the questionnaire and having the documents created. Trust documents are specific to the state you live in and are the same documents any attorney would provide.

4. Getting our new trust notarized. This required a quick trip to the bank and after it was notarized we were able to also change the beneficiary on our accounts (2 birds, one stone).

5. Changing over any deeds from our personal names to the name of our trust. Easy Legal Planning can do this for you as well.

6. Naming our trust as the beneficiary on all of our accounts/life insurance. This was a few phone calls on top of the trip to the bank.

7. Telling our friends and family their roles in our new trust AND where the documents are located in case of our death. We're still trying to decide where we'd like to store our shiny new binder with all of this important legal information in it!

After creating this, I finally have some peace of mind that if anything happens to my husband and I our children will be taken care of the way that we want. We also have discussed more about our parents and who would really make the best medical decisions for us more than I ever thought possible (in case you were wondering, we think all the Mothers have to be in agreement for either of us) and it's comforting to have it all down on paper.

The BONUS? Easy Legal Planning created THIS LINK just for TodaysMama readers and is offering $100 off for the month of March! This is a great opportunity to get organized financially this year and take advantage of what they have to offer. Check it out!

Have you created a Will or Living Trust?

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