Getting an estate plan prepared and fully in place takes quite a bit of effort. If mistakes are made, it can make all the time spent worthless. One fairly common mistake made by people in California and elsewhere is not funding trusts. What good is a trust if assets are never placed in its care?
Trusts offer certain legal and tax protections that a will alone may not provide. However, one cannot just write up a trust document. Action has to be taken to place desired assets in the care of a trust.
If a trust is not funded properly, it can make estate administration far more difficult than it needs to be. Those placed in charge of the estate will be tasked with gathering assets and identifying ownership. If everything is jointly owned or if a will is in place, it can be fairly simple to accomplish this. However, if neither of these apply, a probate judge may have the final say in how things are ultimately distributed.
Failing to fund a trust does not mean that one's estate will not be distributed to beneficiaries. It just means that it may not be done in the way one initially intended. It also means that any protections that are offered in the trust document will not be valid.
California residents can turn to an estate planning attorney to receive assistance in creating trusts that best serve their interests. Further help can be provided in ensuring that the appropriate steps to funding one's trust are taken. With the right assistance, one can be sure that everything that needs to be done to protect one's estate and beneficiaries is done without mistakes.
Source: nwitimes.com, "Estate planning: Unfunded trusts", Christopher Yugo, May 7, 2017