As most people know, one of the major benefits of creating a trust during your lifetime is that you can avoid probate. However, if the trust is not funded, you will not avoid probate. Funding your trust is the process of transferring ownership of your assets from your individual name to your trust. To do this, you physically change the titles from your individual name (or joint names) to the name of your trust. You will also change most beneficiary designations to your trust so those proceeds will flow into your trust when you die.
When you sign a will, no further action is needed. The Will is filed away and usually forgotten about. The title to property is changed after you die when you have a Will. The probate court oversees this transfer of title. When create your trust, you must change the titles now so there will be nothing for the courts to do when you die (or incapacitated).
While the funding process is not difficult, it will take some time and it’s easy to get sidetracked or procrastinate. Make a list of your assets, their values and locations, then start with the most valuable ones and work your way down. Your attorney will usually transfer the real estate. However, many assets can be transferred yourself therefore saving some attorney’s fees. If there is an asset that you are finding difficult or complicated to transfer, you can always go back to the attorney for some additional assistance. While the funding process can sometimes take a bit of time and effort; you can look forward to your peace of mind once you have completed it.