Living Trusts in Texas: It’s all in the details!

If you have a living trust, you must remember that all of your assets should be owned by the Trust rather than by you personally. This is not a difficult process but it requires attention to the details. Are you in the habit of that? Living trusts are popular because it allows your heirs to avoid probate.

However, probate in Texas is simple and inexpensive. In Texas, there is a relatively easy procedure called an “independent administration” if your will has the proper language. An independent administration can often be completed within three months if no estate tax return needs to be filed.

If you choose to have a living trust, it’s all in the details! When you open a bank account, you must explain the trust to the bank and make sure the trust is the owner of the account. If you receive property by purchase or inheritance, you must purchase it in the name of the Trust or transfer it to the Trust immediately.

What if you miss the details? Because the benefits of a living trust (such as probate avoidance) apply only to the assets in the trust, if you miss the details your estate will have to go through probate. We have had clients whose relatives had a living trust but an asset was not in the living trust. Therefore, the will had to be probated and the living trust was all for naught.

Remember, if just one bank account is in your name alone instead of in the trust, then your estate will have to go through probate and incur all the costs of probate, on top of what you have paid to have a living trust.

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