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Includes every document you, your children, and your parents need to manage and control your estate and avoid the court system.

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What is a Living Trust?

A Living Trust is an estate plan that manages your assets during your lifetime. Your Trust then efficiently and inexpensively passes your estate to your chosen beneficiaries after your death. A Living Trust is also known as an “Intervivos Trust” or “Revocable Trust.”

What is Probate?

If you become incapacitated and when you die, your estate is subject to Probate. Probate is a  court system that handles every person’s estate with assets in their name. And the system also supervises the administration and distribution of your estate at your death.

Why would you need a Living Trust?

To control and protect your estate, now and after your death.

By law, no one can sign your name. Therefore, if you acquire a disability, your name can only be signed using a previously executed Financial Power of Attorney. After your death, your name can only be signed by an Executor whom the Probate Court authorizes.

Your Financial Power of Attorney is revoked by operation of law at your death. Consequently, if you have assets in your name after your death, such as title to real estate or financial institution accounts, a Probate Estate must be opened. Now, a judge must approve an Executor to administer your estate.

Last Will and Testament does not avoid Probate. A Will is your wish for an Executor to handle your estate and beneficiaries to receive your property after your death. A Will must be filed in Probate court. Then, a Probate Court judge appoints your Executor to sign your name and distribute your property.


What is wrong with Probate?

Probate is costly, takes a long time, and the number of cases in the system makes it inefficient and burdens families. The Probate system cannot handle the estate of every person. If you have not made other provisions and you acquire a disability, your assets are subject to the control of the Probate court.

Your family must care for you under the direction of the court system. If you die with assets in your name, and the total collective value of your assets exceeds $100,000, your entire estate is subject to the complete Probate process.

Probate requires a minimum six-month claims period, and the entire process can take an average of 18 months to two years or more to complete

 

How can Probate be avoided?

Probate is avoided with a properly drafted, executed, and funded Living Trust.

How does a Living Trust avoid Probate?

All assets in your name are retitled to the name of your Living Trust and are not subject to Probate. Your estate is administered privately and efficiently by your Successor Trustee, often one of your family members or a trusted friend. Your Trustee can also be a beneficiary of your Living Trust. The process can take only weeks or time to transfer your assets to your beneficiaries.

What legal documents are in a Living Trust?

A Living Trust estate plan should include the following:

  1. Living Trust,
  2. Last Will and Testament. (for you and your Spouse.) This type of Will is often called a Pour-Over Will, a safety net for assets not titled in your Trust at your death. This Will pours the assets in your name out of Probate and into your Trust.

What are the other advantages of a Living Trust?

Some of the many advantages of a Living Trust estate plan:

  • Avoids Probate
  • Protects you in the event of your disability
  • Organizes lifetime management of your assets
  • Contains specific instructions for inheritance
  • Protects the wishes of the first spouse to die
  • Avoids the perils of joint tenancy
  • Protects against loss of benefits or government reimbursement if a beneficiary acquires a disability before your death
  • Includes assets in all states and avoids multiple-state probate
  • It contains a No-Contest clause
  • Provides creditor protection for beneficiaries
  • Is revocable
  • Amended easily
  • It can be readily adapted to the laws of another state in the event you move your residence.

A single Living Trust includes a free Will, free Guardianship provisions, Supplemental Needs, and beneficiary asset protections.

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A Marital Trust includes Free Wills for you and your spouse, free Guardianship, Supplemental Needs, and beneficiary asset protections.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • I thought a Living Trust was only for wealthy people.

    A Living Trust is for every person with assets of over $50,000-$100,000 in value, depending on your state’s Probate limit. We grew up hearing about “Trust Funds” and equating them to wealthy families. The truth is that 30 years ago, a Living Trust averaged $5,000 or more, which is over $11,000 in today’s dollars! That is why it was reserved for the wealthy. Today, you can have trust funds because of technology, especially on this website. It has always been the same concept and process.
    Now, it is affordable for every person.

  • How expensive is Probate?

    A Living Trust is for every person with assets that exceed their residence state’s Probate limit, which ranges from $50,000 to $10,000.
    The actual cost of Probate varies based on several factors, including the size of your estate, its complexity, attorney fees, and whether it is contested.
    The AARP estimates that Probate costs the average estate 5-10% of its value and up to 20% of smaller estates. The Estate Planning Source estimates that over $50 billion is spent each year on Probate costs.
    The factor that can devastate an estate’s value is whether the real estate or stock market is rising or falling. Probate lost half its value because the market crashed before assets could be sold.
    The costs keep piling up when considering attorney, court, bond, and other professional fees.
    Your best approach now is to avoid the system with a Living Trust.

  • How does a Living Trust avoid Probate?

    All assets in your name are retitled to your Living Trust and are not subject to Probate. Your Successor Trustee is often a family member or trusted friend. Your Trustee can also be a beneficiary of your Living Trust. The process of transferring your assets to your beneficiaries can take only weeks.

  • Who do I choose for Trustee?

    You should choose the person you trust the most.
    Your Successor Trustee can often be a trusted family member such as one of your children.
    When asked which child you should choose, we like to say – If you have had more than one child, you know the difference! Choose the most responsible, and that is who will want the job.
    Resist choosing all your children as Co-Trustees. It is inconvenient, and some children don’t want the job! They will all resent it.

  • What if one of my children has special circumstances?

    Then, a Living Trust is a perfect solution.
    Suppose immaturity, an alcohol or drug problem, a difficult marriage, or financial difficulties. In that case, you can direct that this child’s portion shall remain in Trust for as long you choose and subject to any conditions you desire.
    If your child has a disability, you must leave that inheritance in your Living Trust with Supplemental Needs provisions added. This provision prevents the government from using the child’s inheritance to reimburse public benefits such as SSI and Medicaid.
    Your Living Trust is as adaptable as you want for your family’s circumstances and desires.

  • Can someone contest my Living Trust?

    Any person can try to contest your Trust. However, they must overcome your No Contest provision unless they prove fraud in creating the Trust or you are incompetent in signing the documents.
    Our Living Trusts contain a No-Contest provision, which holds that anyone who contests your Trust is treated as if they died before you. They receive nothing.

  • What if one of my beneficiaries is being used?

    Spendthrift Provision protects your beneficiary’s inheritance.
    If your beneficiary’s assets are at risk at death, your Living Trust protects their inheritance from creditors or estranged spouses.

  • What if I can’t afford a Living Trust right now?

    We have options for you! You can pay in installments with Affirm and receive your documents immediately!

  • How does my Trust protect me if I become disabled?

    Since your assets are titled in your Trust name, they are not subject to Guardianship or Conservatorship in case of disability. Your Successor Trustee preserves your assets outside of Probate Court and manages finances.

  • Are there tax advantages with a Living Trust

    Certain Trusts do have tax-saving provisions, depending on the circumstances.
    This type of Trust is primarily for high-net-worth individuals since the 2024 federal estate tax exemption is $13.6 million. If your estate is less than that figure, there will be no estate tax. Certain states have an additional estate tax threshold.
    Depending on the size of your estate, you should consult with an attorney and tax advisor.

  • What if I own assets in multiple states?

    The good news is that you can title assets in each state in your Living Trust.
    The bad news is if you do not have a Living Trust, and the assets are in your name at your death, they must go through the Probate system in the state where the real estate or asset is located. An additional Probate proceeding is necessary for the state of your residence.
    Multiple Probate proceedings mean more time and more cost.

  • What if my Trustee dies before me or refuses?

    Then, your Alternate Successor Trustee takes over the responsibilities. For those reasons and more, you should choose at least one alternate.
    If you are married, remember your spouse will be the Surviving Trustee.

  • Does having a Living Trust complicate my life?

    Not at all! Your Living Trust grants you the same powers you have now over your assets. Once you retitle your assets, you won’t know the difference in your financial life.

Transparent Estate Plan Pricing and Benefits

At CBA, we understand you have changing needs. Our estate plans are designed and customized to meet your individual and family needs. You can edit or upgrade at any point if you need additional options for yourself and your family.

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