August 12, 2020
Estate Planning: More than Just Documents
By Paul Miloe, CRPS®
Taking the time to meet with a well-qualified attorney to develop your estate plan is an important step in the financial planning process. This can take time, but after a thorough review, you’ll be glad you did this for the peace of mind it can provide you and your family. Once the documents have been finalized, notarization applied, and completed Trust delivered to you, it is critical to know that the job is not done. Typically, the items below will be discussed by your attorney, but, as a reminder, consider the following:
Durable Power of Attorney (POA) – POAs are typically drafted individually for financial and health care needs and will remain within your Trust folder/online storage until needed. To enact a POA, you have to carefully read the requirements as drafted. Some can be done via the request of the party listed to serve as the POA (aka. Agent, attorney-in-fact, proxy), but others require additional certification (like consent of multiple parties/doctors). For financial matters, the POA has to be presented to the custodian holding your assets. It will then be reviewed/accepted, but may be rejected. POAs can initially be rejected due to elapsed time from the date the Grantor (one signing/giving consent) originally signed. Typically, this can be when the time period has been over 2 years. In those cases, each custodian will advise on their requirements, but often this involves a re-certification of the document.
“Funding” the Trust – In and of itself, a Trust (living, revocable, irrevocable, etc.) is just a document. Once completed, title of the assets to be covered by the Trust have to be updated to the name of the Trust. This is what is commonly referred to as “funding.” When working with an attorney, they will typically work with you on changing the title of your home over to the Trust. For other personal investments, savings, and real property, it is generally incumbent upon you to get those items re-registered. To facilitate this, you may be provided a condensed certification of trust, but note this may not be accepted by all firms. Many firms still require a full copy or select pages (title page noting trust name/trustees/successor trustees, powers of trustee section, signature/notary). Trusts may come with a Schedule A (or other) at the end listing items that should be covered, but don’t rely on that schedule as assurance that they were re-titled. Rather, check with each institution and review account statements to ensure the Trust name is shown.
When drafting your estate documents, it is very helpful to get the completed sections sent to you in PDF as well as physical formats. For the PDF, be sure that you receive copies of the signed/notarized pages. Having the PDF can greatly simplify the funding process (and save a few trees in the process).
This communication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific legal, tax, or other professional advice. For specific professional assistance, the services of an appropriate professional should be sought.