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VINE VOICEon July 3, 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am developing quite a library of Nolo books on a variety of topics and they have served me well as a home owner, and business owner. I've gone through the living trust with my parents and wanted to set one up for myself. This book is a tremendous reference and is enabling me to do this. Firstly , the book is a wonderfully researched document about WHY a living trust is necessary. The book not only describes trusts and their value in avoiding probate and taxes but gives the reader an extensive list of scenarios which cover most of the potential problems or irregularities a family may have which would deviate from straight forward applications. Besides the extensive volume, the reader also has access to online forms and podcasts and videos on the topic to round out the educational experience.

As I've written in reviews of other NOLO books. I find their volumes extremely worth the price, well researched, up to date, and in a word comprehensive. If you are looking to set up your own living trust , or just wish to understand the process completely before hiring an attorney, I give this five stars.
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VINE VOICEon July 5, 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I understood what Dennis was saying, but I have spent over 1000 researching living trust, and I had a difficult time with some of the forms. I do say that this is a book that will help you complete your trust, and I recommend that everyone have a trust to prevent the horrors of Probate. I say this, because my father died with an estate on paper worth $285,000, and after four years of Probate I received $211.77, but he only had net assets of $125,000. The probate system gets paid on the gross estate, not the net estate.

In addition, I disagree with the Dennis about not putting your bank account, and some other assets into your trust. Do you think the bank is going to turn over cash to your heirs upon the death of the you or your spouse? I don't think so. They will require Probate to let them do it, and don't let anyone tell you different.

If you do your own living trust with this workbook, make sure you get written approval that your bank, stockbroker, or any other institute will accept these forms. There is no law that says you can't do your own living trust. Never assume anything where assets are involved.

Finally, in my opinion I would recommend that you have an arbitration clause in your trust that says that if anyone contests or disagrees with your final wishes that they are settled by binding arbitration without lawyers. Whatever you decide I hope you do a living trust to protect your assets from going through Probate, even if you have a very small estate.
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VINE VOICEon September 1, 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A living trust is an alternative to a will, one that avoids probate. The idea is simple. You create a trust by declaring yourself the "grantor" and "trustee," put value (money or property) into the trust, name the beneficiaries and someone to become trustee when you die, and there you have it. Of course, the process is more complicated than I've indicated, which is why Nolo has put out this 300+ page book.

The problem with any legal issue is the wrinkles that come about, and that fact seems to be especially true when it comes to life--and that's what wills and trusts are all about. Writing a valid will is very simple if you want to leave all your property to your spouse, for example, but if you want to put some aside for the child from a previous marriage, want to ensure that some of your money is set aside to educate the children of this marriage, and so on and so forth . . . then things get complicated. And when you add in the types of property--separate versus community, real estate, bank accounts, insurance policies, and so forth--things can get really complicated.

I would not recommend that someone with a complicated situation necessarily use this book to create a complex living trust, but I would recommend this book to just about anyone considering a living trust. The book is easy to read, divided into common-sense sections, and designed to be read by a layperson. In other words, there's no sentence in here that reads "The devisee must be of majority at the time of the establishment of the granting document provided horizontal privity exists in a case of non-mutual offensive collateral estoppel." (To be clear, that sentence is mostly gibberish using various legal terms from wills, contracts, property, and evidence law.) The book is entirely readable and easy to understand, at least in small bites. (I definitely wouldn't try reading this in one sitting.)

Because of the importance of the trust in providing for children or others and the inability of the decedent to fix anything after death, setting up a trust is something you want to get right. Using this books and downloadable forms, you probably can do it right if things don't get too complicated. However, as I noted above, complicated cases probably do mean you should go to a lawyer. But I STILL recommend this book. At the $40 list price, it costs about the same as 12 minutes of an attorney's time, and it will help you understand the attorney, know what issues are important, and perhaps even guide the establishment of the trust. I should think at the very least, spending the money on this book and going into an attorney's office prepared will save you more than $40 on fees.

I highly recommend this book for (1) demystifying a potentially confusing issue, (2) allowing people to create their own trusts in some cases, and (3) at least letting them know what the relevant issues are.
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on March 11, 2013
I've already used Mr. Clifford's book to establish our Living Trust. Straightforward, with easy to understand explanations, and downloadable forms that are compatible with my OpenOffice word processor. All this at a small fraction of what an attorney would cost!
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VINE VOICEon June 30, 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My grandfather recently passed away [June 3, 2013], through his passing I've watched my mother execute his will. With these recent events, this has gotten me to wake up and take care of my business. I never really wanted to think about my own death or what will happen to all the things I have accumulated over the years but I've come to realize that establishing a living trust is the best way to transfer my property to my beneficiaries.

The 11th Edition to Making Your Own Living Trust is an easy to read book. The book gives you an overview of living trusts, why living trusts are easy to set up, and all the ins and outs of how to set one up. The book also offers eForms and tear-out forms to assist in setting one up. Using this book, will help you to decide if a living trust is appropriate for you and your family. However, the key to it is learning how a living trust will let your family skip probate court; saving money, time, and effort.
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on October 26, 2014
I have been frustrated with attorneys lately. They have just not come through for me. I need a living trust and a roll over will for my mom. I started by getting a regular will, but the attorney messed it up - Don't get me wrong, its close and its valid, but it was not written to come out the way my mom told me she wanted it. Of course, the attorney would not talk to anyone but my 90 year old mom - might be undue influence. How hard can this be I thought? So now that I am working on setting up a living trust for her. I tried the Suzy Orman online package and the result was too simple and I was not sure how to modify it for her. Though I am pretty sure it would be valid. I purchased the NOLO Make your own Living Trust Book. I found it very clear and easy to understand. The Suzy Orman package does not provide as much explanation and basically steps you through as series of questions and answers. The NOLO book provides a fair amount of information. One thing I like a lot is that NOLO flags areas where you should not try to do it on your own and need to use an attorney. I liked the downloadable documents they provide with places to put your information. The form did not cover exactly what I wanted to do for distributing property, but I wrote what I wanted. I plan to take what I have to an attorney for review. This book takes all the hocus-pocus out of creating a trust. You get complete set of boiler plates But it does not cover all circumstances. I now feel I have the knowledge I need to have a more equal conversation with an attorney and can focus in on what else I need to know instead of spending money hearing trusts 101. I bought this book in hard copy and then added on the kindle version for 2.99. I've decided this is the way to go from now on for reference material. I can use the paper at home and have the electronic version with me when I travel.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There are a lot of homegrown lawyers out there who think they'll save themselves a few bucks and go it alone. No need to have anything in writing, let alone a will. Everything is easy peasy and the only thing you need to do is put someone's name on your checking account and that's enough. Wrong. I remember the time I sat in the probate clerk's office watching people file in who were in a predicament because their relatives probably did just that. I was put on someone's checking account, not realizing they never filed a will and I needed to file to become the executor of the estate because the bank froze everything.

As bereaved relatives filed in trying to figure out what to do, the clerk would ask them for $25 and hand them a small booklet. The best way to avoid having to have your relatives go through this angst is to read and work through a book like this now. Believe me, if there is ever a place I'd want to avoid it would be probate. No one really wants to think about their eventual demise, but taking care of business while you are still capable and of sound mind is the only way to go. There are several references in this book in relation to "incapacity."

There are those niggling little questions in the back of your mind when you become ill or are worried you might have a catastrophic illness in the future. Can you protect your property by putting a clause in your trust? I got a terse answer to that one when I took a look in this Nolo: "A catastrophic illness clause certainly sounds like a good idea. But unfortunately, no simple clause can protect your assets. Bluntly put, the law doesn't easily allow people to retain their assets and still become eligible for federal aid." There is a suggested resource, Long-Term Care: How to Plan & Pay for It, by Joseph Matthews in another Nolo text.

Throughout this book are those answers to questions you may have and those that have that light bulb, why-didn't-I-think-of-that types. There are reproducible forms that can be downloaded on the publisher's website as well as other information in the form of author blogs, podcasts, and videos you may wish to explore. There are numerous informative sidebars interspersed throughout the book as well as icons indicating areas you may wish to pay attention to. These icons indicate tips, resources, advise you to see an expert, indicate that certain information pertains to couples, or offer up cautionary notes, etc. One cautionary note is that if you are a Louisiana resident, you "cannot make a trust with this book" because they follow the Napoleonic Code. This is an excellent resource that you should purchase, read carefully, and work with ... while you can.


Your Legal Companion for Making Your Own Living Trust

Chapter 1

Overview of Living Trusts
Living Trusts Explained
Probate and Why You Want to Avoid It
Avoiding Probate
Living Trusts and Estate Taxes
Other Advantages of a Living Trust
Possible Drawbacks of a Living Trust

Chapter 2

Human Realities and Living Trusts
Leaving Unequal Amounts of Property to Children
Second or Subsequent Marriages
Single People
Disinheriting a Child
Unmarried Couples
Same-Sex Couples
Communicating Your Decisions to Family and Friends

Chapter 3

Common Questions About Living Trusts
Does Everyone Need a Living Trust?
If I Prepare a Living Trust, Do I Need a Will?
How Can I Leave Trust Property to Children and Young Adults?
Will My Living Trust Reduce Estate Taxes?
Will I Have to Pay Gift Taxes?
Will a Living Trust Shield My Property From Creditors?
Do I Need a "Catastrophic Illness Clause" in My Trust?
How Does Where I Live Affect My Living Trust?
Can I Place Real Estate in a Living Trust?
Can I Sell or Give Away Trust Property While I'm Alive?
Is a Bank Account Held in Trust Insured by the FDIC?
Will Property in My Living Trust Get a "Stepped-Up" Tax Basis When I Die?
Who Must Know About My Living Trust?
What About Free Living Trust Seminars?
Could Someone Challenge My Living Trust?

Chapter 4

What Type of Trust Do You Need?
If You Are Single
If You Are Part of a Couple
Individual Trusts for Members of a Couple
Basic Shared Living Trusts
Tax-Saving AB Trusts

Chapter 5

The Tax-Saving AB Trust
The Purpose of an AB Trust
How an AB Disclaimer Trust Works
Is Nolo's AB Disclaimer Trust Right for You?

Chapter 6

Choosing What Property to Put in Your Living Trust
Listing the Property to Be Put in Your Trust
Property You Should Not Put in Your Living Trust
Property You Can Put in Your Living Trust
Marital Property Laws
Completing the Property Worksheet

Chapter 7

The Initial Trustee
The Trustee After One Spouse's Death or Incapacity
The Successor Trustee

Chapter 8

Choosing Your Beneficiaries
Kinds of Trust Beneficiaries
Naming Your Primary Beneficiaries
Simultaneous Death Clauses
Shared Gifts
Some Common Concerns About Beneficiaries
Naming Alternate Beneficiaries
Residuary Beneficiaries
Putting Conditions on Beneficiaries
Property That Is No Longer in Your Trust at Your Death
Beneficiary Worksheets

Chapter 9

Property Left to Minor Children or Young Adults
Property Management Options
Which Method Is Better for You: Child's Trust or Custodianship?
Tax-Saving Educational Investment Plans
Child's Trusts

Chapter 10

Preparing Your Living Trust Document
Choosing the Right Trust Form
Making Changes to a Trust Form
Step-by-Step Instructions
Prepare Your Final Trust Document
Consider Having Your Work Checked by a Lawyer
Sign Your Living Trust in Front of a Notary

Chapter 11

Transferring Property to Your Trust
Technical Ownership
Certifications of Trust
Real Estate
Bank Accounts and Safe Deposit Boxes
Vehicles, Boats, and Planes
Business Interests
Limited Partnerships

Chapter 12

Copying, Storing, and Registering Your Trust Document
Making Copies
Storing the Trust Document
Registering the Trust

Chapter 13

Living With Your Living Trust
Adding Property to Your Living Trust
Selling or Giving Away Trust Property
When to Amend Your Living Trust Document
Who Can Amend a Living Trust Document
How to Amend Your Trust Document
Revoking Your Living Trust

Chapter 14

After a Grantor Dies
Who Serves as Trustee After the Grantor's Death
The Trustee's Duties
Transferring Property to Beneficiaries
Preparing and Filing Tax Returns
Administering a Child's Trust
Administering a Custodianship

Chapter 15

A Living Trust as Part of Your Estate Plan
Using a Backup Will
Other Probate-Avoidance Methods
Federal Gift and Estate Taxes
State Inheritance and Estate Taxes
Planning for Incapacity
Long-Term Trusts to Control Property

Chapter 16

Why Prepare a Backup Will?
What You Can Do in a Backup Will
Pour-Over Wills
Avoiding Conflicts Between Your Will and Your Living Trust
Filling In the Will Form
Signing and Witnessing Your Will

Chapter 17

If You Need Expert Help
Hiring a Lawyer to Review Your Living Trust
Working With an Expert Lawyer Fees
Doing Your Own Legal Research

Appendix A
Using the eForms
Editing RTFs
List of eForms
Appendix B

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on April 12, 2014
Maybe you can make a trust following these instructions. IF YOUR LIFE IS VERY SIMPLE AND YOU DO NOT HAVE MUCH. if you have "interesting" situations with children, a business, kids from prior relationships, etc. you are very unlikely to complete making the trust without help. The subjects are just too difficult. Still, there is good, very practical advice in this book even if you ultimately decide to have a lawyer. A lawyer will also help to keep you focused as you deal with the very unpleasant subjects of death, illness, partner's death and/or illness etc. A confession - We started to form a trust several years ago and were daunted by the complexity of our life situation (who did we want to raise our kids if we died? Did the new "parents" get all of our money to help with that?) How do we want our money distributed if we died as relationships changed. Our life is more stable now with the kids gone and we were actually able to finish this time.
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on January 21, 2015
This is a surprisingly complete and easy to use text on putting together basic living trusts. It comes with a link to online versions of the documents that you can edit yourself. I prefer it to the Nolo online living trust tool which costs more and only allows you to make one trust per subscription.
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on May 5, 2014
This is a very good book about creating a living trust, but since the idea of a living trust is that when you really need it you will be either incapacitated or dead (and therefore unable to clarify what you really meant) it is a good idea to both buy the book and then pay an attorney to ask questions and have a trust drawn for you.
Once you have learned the basics you won't use up expensive attorney time in having him explain to you basics as to the difference between revokable or irrevokable, or whom to select as trustee.
One important issue is whether a trust is a good idea; it isn't always.
Probate does provide more control upon your death than a trust, so it may not always be a good idea to have one.
Also, at least in my state, probate is a pretty simple process, just time consuming to fill out all the forms, but something I was able to handle myself when a family member died. Furthermore, at least in my state (and I suspect in most or all states) you are not saving inheritance taxes with a trust; the assets get taxed just as if you did not have one upon death.
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