When I meet with a new client for the very first time, I try to be as upfront about the whole process as I possibly can. Just because the process makes sense to me and because I know it forwards and backwards does not mean that my brand new client does. Estate planning is so important to have, but creating one can be complicated, frustrating, and very overwhelming! But we try our hardest to make the process as smooth as possible.
I’d like to take a moment and share some briefs thoughts about a question I frequently hear from new clients. The question typically comes just after they have signed the many different documents that make up a complete MH Estate Plan. Their brain is overloaded, their hand is tired, and they are just ready to be done with it. The question will invariably be something like, “Now that I have signed all my trust documents, I’m done right?” As much as I’d like to say yes, the answer is kindly, “No, the most important part is yet to come!”
I like my clients to envision a trust as an empty box. (And while I could write pages upon pages about all that this trust, or empty box, can do for you, for purposes of this blog we will skip all of that for now.) Now, let’s imagine that you’re moving from one house to another and you have a whole bunch of brand new, empty cardboard boxes ready to help you do that. What good are any of those boxes if you don’t put anything inside? Surely, it seems ridiculous to think about moving empty boxes from one house to the other.
So it is with my client’s brand new trust. An empty trust will serve no purpose for my client because, with nothing inside the trust, it is just like an empty box. However, if you were to start putting pots and pans and dishes into one of your moving boxes, now the box serves a purpose and will help you during the moving process.
The process of putting “stuff” into your trust is called “funding,” and the types of stuff you put into your trust are your bank accounts, non-IRA brokerage accounts, real estate, safe deposit boxes, expensive vehicles and/or motor homes, and life insurance policies, just to name a few. The goal is to remove your name as the owner of all the items in the “box” and to have the box, or trust, named as the owner. By doing this, you can avoid probate and create special protections for your beneficiaries that are not available if these assets are sitting on the ground next to the box, but not inside the box. (There are also special designations for retirement assets, but those will not be discussed here.)
The bottom line is that having an empty box is handy, but it is even better when you use it to carry stuff around. Please call us today if you’d like to decide if a “box” is right for you, and we will gladly help you determine what should go inside and how to best get it there.
For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact our office today at 888.222.1328.
About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.