The primary purposes of a Revocable Living Trust are to avoid Probate Court's costs at death and a guardianship proceeding should the creator of the Trust (the Trustor) become incapacitated during life. In order for a Successor Trustee to properly administer the Trust in the event of incapacity or death, the assets in the Trust should be identified. 

Typically attached to an individual Revocable Living Trust is Schedule A that lists all the Trust assets. This provides a roadmap for the Successor Trustee to find the Trustor's assets held in the Trust and to begin administering the assets correctly. For married couples completing a joint Revocable Living Trust, Schedule A will identify Community Property, Schedule B will identify the Husband's Separate Property, and Schedule C will identify the Wife's Separate Property. Identifying the property's character can be very important for the Successor Trustee to properly administer the Trust for beneficiaries and determine if the step-up in income tax basis to Fair Market Value at death is applicable to the asset. The Trustors should update Schedules A, B, and C in writing as material changes are made to their assets such as new bank accounts, brokerage accounts, real estate, life insurance, safe deposit boxes, etc. While the Trustors can make updates and changes to their Schedules, the Trustors should never write on their trust document as any handwritten modification to a Trust document that is not properly executed/notarized will not be effective.

An example of Schedule A is included at the end of this article for a sample client assuming all their property is Community Property. While Schedule A provides the roadmap for administering Trust assets for Successor Trustees, it does not by itself fund assets into the Trust. To properly fund real property into a Trust, a deed must be prepared and recorded, bank account and brokerage accounts re-titled to the Trust, qualified plans and IRA beneficiary designations updated, life insurance beneficiary designations completed, and business interests assigned to the Trust. 

Consult with an Estate Planning Professional

While Estate planning can be complicated, it is essential in protecting yourself and your loved one's financial future. Give Anderson, Dorn & Rader Ltd. a call at 775-823-9455 to make a free consultation with an estate planning attorney and see how we can help protect your legacy and your family.

If you have retirement accounts, you understand the importance of having enough funds to cover your retirement expenses. So, what if you pass away with funds still in these accounts? When you die, your family or other loved ones may inherit your retirement accounts.

Make a List

First, make a list of all of your retirement funds. Include your 401k, pension plan and IRAs. If you were self-employed, don’t forget to list your self-employed 401K, Keogh plan or other account. Next, include details for each account: statement locations, account numbers, financial institutions, account managers, and a description of benefits you are currently receiving.

You should also include information about what you have paid into social security. Some of your beneficiaries, such as children under eighteen or a spouse, may be able to collect on your social security record.

Designate Beneficiaries

Retirement accounts allow you to name a beneficiary to receive those funds after you pass away. If you have a 401K or work pension plan, or you live a community property state, you may be required to designate your spouse unless he or she signs off on a different beneficiary.
By choosing a beneficiary, your account can pass to your heir outside of probate. Make sure to update account beneficiaries when they change.

Consider a Retirement Plan Trust

It is not a good idea to name your Revocable Living Trust as the beneficiary of a retirement account, as it will limit the access your heirs have to those funds. Since your account can already avoid probate if you have designated a beneficiary, you don’t need a Living Trust for this.

If you prefer a trust to provide protection against a beneficiary's divorce or other creditors, or you have beneficiaries who are young or exhibit spendthrift behavior, you may wish to consider a Retirement Plan Trust. This is a trust specifically designed to meet the requirements of the tax laws to allow you to protect the death benefits of these accounts and to "stretch out" their tax benefits over the life expectancies of your beneficiaries. This allows for maximum protection of your retirement accounts after your death and provides for the greatest overall income tax deferral on these accounts.

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