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OMG....I had no idea how easy things are because dad took the effort to set up a trust. Thanksgiving Eve Dad decided he wanted to have Thanksgiving with Mom, of visa versa...not sure which. That means he had to leave us, since Mom has been gone 8 years. We know, without a shadow of a doubt he is with mom ( read my post "An Amazing Story). Needless to say as Trustee to Dad's trust I've been a busy beaver for the last few days. But it looks like, barring any unforeseen circumstances, it will be most wrapped up inside of two weeks (takes over a week or more to get the death certificates) and everyone will have their inheritances (minus what's set back for income taxes) and can go about their lives. I know I'd like to get back to my husband and my two dogs, my cockatoo and my Bearded Dragon Lizard (all of whom he's not so fond of taking care of). Dad made it so easy with the Trust rather then having to go through Probate and all that entails. When this is wrapped up, I'm going home and my husband and I are getting on Legal Zoom and doing a trust, without a doubt.

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I have to disagree about needing to probate when beneficiaries are named on specific accounts. I'm currently going through this with my mothers estate. Every account that named a beneficiary is already wrapped up and funds dispersed- it took a total of about two months to finish up - local accounts were done the day I went in with the death cert. Since mom had been in one type of facility or another for a while the house and personal possessions had long ago been taken care of with the exception of moms wedding ring which she gave me a few days before she passed. We are probating one brokerage account that did not have specific beneficiaries named. While it did not apply in our situation, Oregon is one of roughly half the states that have a TOD process for property- transfer upon death. This is where a specific beneficiary can be named on a house or land and avoid probate.
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We were told that trusts are also required for specific disinheritance, which is why we got one. In retrospect, I'd rather deal with a trust than with probate.

The restrictions on specific disinheritance might be unique to Michigan. I don't know for sure as I haven't checked out any statutory provisions on that aspect.

If I had any assets besides my house and garden (yes, that's a major asset!), I would still use a trust just to avoid the rigamarole and openness of probate. I don't appreciate having carpetbaggers coming out of their holes harassing me to list a house. And I don't appreciate all the unwanted solicitations that can occur when these carpetbaggers go through probate's public records.
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My dad had nowhere near 700000.00. Plus there was no need to further fund the trust if Dad didn't want to have he had initially established it and all the assets put into it. He did, though, by automatically putting his monthly income in the trust. He also had some stocks and bonds, and they were in trust. He often bought and sold a few and their being in the trust didn't change anything. The trust pretty much ran itself. The only difference that dad could even see was that his checks said "The John Doe Trust" rather then just his name.

Dad was Trustee and I was Co Trustee. Everything in the trust, the main checking account and savings, the house, the personal belongings, I was immediately in charge of after dad died and started right away dispersing funds as dad wanted, minding that I would keep enough in reserve for his 2016 taxes and any small debts that might appear. Tomorrow I need to start on the house, finding out what I need to do there, but I'm not anticipating any problems.

The two things that dad left out of the trust, however, are going to cost time (three to four weeks) and money (1250.00),and that's only because is a small enough amount to be able to fast track these items with Muniment of Title. This wouldn't have been available if we'd have had to probate everything since it was more then the maximum Muniment of Title allows.

Without trust we would have been forced to fully probate and would have cost at least three times as much, or more, and up to 6 months or more. Even with beneficiaries on everything and a will, you have to go through probate, whereas the trust kept the bulk of his assets out of probate and only cost him 1100.00 to set up. A huge savings in time and money and headache if you ask me.

I'd suggest that, unless you know you're going to have very little to leave behind, or if what you do leave behind is legally titled as such that it automatically passes to an heir(s) upon death (I.E. Joint Bank Account, Pay On Death Clause, Right of Survivorship, etc) then a trust is the way to go.
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I had a meeting with my financial advisor today and I brought up trusts. It was his opinion - which seems to be the same as igloo572's - that unless you are dealing with a substantial amount of money, you are better off designating a beneficiary for every account in order to set up who gets what and to bypass probate. Of course this doesn't account for items such as jewelry or family heirlooms but rather cash, brokerage accounts and even deeds to property. As for the tax benefits with a trust, he referred back to it taking a large amount of money to make the tax benefits of a trust worth all that goes along with establishing and maintaining a trust. The one benefit he did site is what he termed "control from the grave" - as in the trust I have for my special needs son. Long after I'm gone I will still be controlling how that money will be spent to benefit my son.
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GA - yes a limited liability co. to own a property. I don't think it's possible to do a beneficiary designation on property so if they die it has to be in a will as to distribution. But an LLC continues on, with 1 less K-1 filed. Some places do not let homestead exemptions happen on property owned by trust or a LLC but only for a person. So my thought is that if theres not enough $ for trust & they want to avoid probate and homestead exemption (& benefits) doesn't matter then an LLC gives pretty good protection with flexible ownership.
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Igloo, I've been mulling over the issue of an LLC to hold assets. Are you referring to a Limited Liability Company, or does LLC represent something else?

More of your astute wisdom, please!
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Why not trusts???..... to me a lot of whether trusts can be the way to go depends on what amount of assets there are. Trusts have costs & need an income stream to keep the trust costs paid & from getting an unplanned unstructured defund. Some assets need to be producing $ to feed the trust. It's my understanding that most trusts (QTPs, "A", bypass, gen skip...) nowadays need to be in the 700k - 1m range to be done & under advisement. Most don't realistically have the $.

What instead some do -if there not the $ for trust- is "beneficiary designation" or LLC on all assets that you can. Insurance policies, pensions, iras, annuities get designation. POD designation on banking. Property owned by LLC. So when they die there's maybe just maybe homestead property thats the only asset to deal with by small estates affadavit or muniment of title (both simple & minimal cost). Could ideally take care of almost all assets so no trust or its costs needed.
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Freq... that is so sad you had to go through all that. Glad you learned from it. Garden...the reason I think we can do this is because we have Dad's Trust as a Guideline. I could really just retype dad's trust word for word and put in our own info rather then his and then we would proceed to put all our assets into the trust. I'll be talking to my husband about getting seriously on this after I get home.

We've run into a hitch with Dad's trust. He opened an account here in TX where he was living with my brother and sis in law and funded it with his IRA yearly mandatory withdrawal this year. He wanted this account to be his "gambling" account so he didn't bother to put anyone on it as beneficiary and put it in his name only, rather then the trust. Now, we are having to get a lawyer involved and that account is going to have to be probated in Texas as a "foreign will", which will take time, money and was totally unnecessary! Glad it's only this one account though...everything else (all in trust) is going smoothly thus far... I'm just worried that the money in this account is going to be needed to pay his Income Taxes and won't be freed up by the time they have to be paid. Darn it Daddy!

Boss, so glad you're went so well! That's the best case scenario...
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Pam, that is so sad. In Arkansas, the kids get a portion, usually leaving the wife with not enough to live on. People really need to check their state's inheritance laws. My mom and dad were young enough (70s) when they, wisely, realized they weren't going to live forever and felt a trust would be how to go. It cost them 900.00 plus/minus but they felt so much better after.

I've looked into doing our own through Legal Zoom for much less and I think that's the way we are going to go. We have a daughter and a granddaughter we want to give to equally. I don't forsee any problems, but I want them to be able to access everything right away and not have to spend a penny on lawyers and probate.
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Dustien, My father didn't even have a Will, he just assumed his wife would get everything. I think they just don't want to deal with their own death.
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My parents (my mom) had the foresight to have a trust done. My mom has passed and my dad is now in assisted living. I have all POA and my brother and I are now both trustees for their trust. Yes, it makes sense and yes, they spent quite a bit of time and money doing this, but it is so helpful.
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Dustien, I don't want to discourage you but trusts are far too complicated to be done by someone who's not an attorney, or a paralegal acting under an attorney's supervision. I still have to read and reread and reread my father's trust to understand everything, although actually the trust is probably simpler than all the notes I took from meetings! There were soooo many complex issues.

You are right, though; other than the 1041s (which vary in complexity by the assets of the trust), estate resolution CAN be a lot easier than dealing with probate.
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Probably because of the expense of getting a Trust put together, it can be expensive. My parents and myself sat face to face with an Elder Law Attorney, that way she was able to ask us question and we ask her questions in return. The Trust was a 3-ring binder thick of legal forms. Included were new Wills, Funding Instructions, Power of Attorney, Health Care, Memorial Instructions, and the complex Trust.

The only problem was that my Dad had dragged his feet doing his "homework" of filling out the forms which asked for information. My Dad didn't want the Attorney to know how much money he had.... oh dear, we got a problem in the room. I kept pestering Dad to do the paperwork.

Dad never got any of the paperwork done and he passed. So I am dealing with Probate which is a maze and complex. So now his Estate is paying for the Elder Law Attorney to help walk me through this jumble of documents.... [sigh].

Thank goodness my Trust and all the related documents is complete and signed.
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