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A guide for your living trust
on August 16, 2013
My mother died earlier this year with a trust and I was the designated trustee. She was not wealthy so there was not a large estate. My sister, brother and I were the beneficiaries and we divided what little property and assets she left without discord in accordance with her will and written wishes.
This was a very easy process to manage, from my perspective. Even transferring ownership of her home from her to the trust to another relative only took two visits to the trust attorney and two visits to the county Register of Deeds where the property was located to file two different quit claim deeds (the latter could have been done by phone, web or mail also.) The whole thing cost a few hundred dollars in filing fees and lawyer fees (a lawyer wrote the quit claim deeds.) I don't know what mom paid the lawyer to write the trust in the first place.
This book, Make Your Own Living Trust, asserts it will provide you will all the tools to do all this yourself without hiring an attorney. The book has 238 pages of text and another 75 or so pages of forms you need to file, such as the quit claim deeds I filed to transfer ownership of my mom's house. This book is also connected to a website where you can download forms.
Having gone through the process of being a trustee, I thought this book might help me file my own trust. However, I found an error in it as early as page 6 where it says: "No court proceedings or papers are required to terminte the trust. Once the job of getting the property to theb eneficiareis is accomplished, the trust just evaporates, by its own terms."
This is not true. When I became trustee, I had to file with the IRS for an employer ID number. This is a formality and does not indicate I was an employer, though some trustees apparently do have employees. Like the precept of this book, the IRS posted on its website how easy it was to acquire and employer ID number following their online process. Only it didn't work for me and I had to call them.
It wasn't hard to get the number -- just a brief chat with an IRS agent and answering a couple questions, then submitting a form and you have the number. However, the IRS agent told me I had to file a report by the end of 2014 to terminate the trust. I can't do that until I file my mother's 2013 taxes next year. So much for this book's idea taht nothing is necessary to terminate a trust!
I haven't otherwise read the whole book so I can't comment on everything else inside. Most people around here seem to like it and my overview indicates it has a lot of information inside. However, it's hard not to be skeptical of something that includes an error on the sixth page. I would also add that our trust attorney provided us with recommendations on how to deal with creditors after mom's death. I didn't see anything in this book about that.