My wife and I have two boys, one is five and the other is two. They both love Legos, but one plays a little more neatly with them than the other. After helping my five-year-old build several cars and other sets, I told him he needed to put them up on his shelf before his little brother came along. He got distracted and didn’t follow through. Sure enough when the two year old came around, those sets left on the floor were at the toddler’s destructive mercy.
At the risk of likening my two year old son to death and incapacity in this metaphor, without funding your trust you are leaving all your hard work to the mercy of the courts, lawyers, creditors, unhappy heirs, etc.
Next to helping you overcome the obstacle of completing your estate planning, the biggest hurdle for me in advising my clients is convincing them to fund their trusts right away. While there are provisions and court motions available that can help to avoid some elements of the probate process if you fail to fund your trust, for the most part, unless you follow through 100%, you’ve wasted your time and money. To help with this, I prepare a Table of Assets for each of my clients. The Table serves two purposes: the first is to keep everything organized for you so you know how assets should be titled and which beneficiary designations to update. It’s your checklist to ensure you’ve followed through on fully funding your trust. If purpose one is fulfilled, the second purpose is to make things easy on your beneficiaries when gathering your assets after your gone.
I generally reach out to my clients within one month, and then again one year after our signing appointment to check on their trust funding progress. Too often in that anniversary phone call I spend time reintroducing the need to fund their trust. Unfortunately, most of the institutions with whom you must make contact will only talk to you, otherwise I’d do quite well charging to complete this process myself.
Upon finalizing your estate planning, it is critical to stay organized to help complete the trust funding process. My Table of Assets will provide all the organization and guidance you need to follow through. Of course, I am also always available on the phone or email to supplement the Table and provide further assistance.