"Do you know where your Trustee is?"
The better question might be “do you even know who your trustee is?”
Many of us have revocable living trusts set forth for children and loved ones. Others have special needs trusts, irrevocable trusts, IRA trusts, and other tax strategy trusts. You may recall a discussion when these were established as to whether you should name a bank or other financial institution or someone you know to serve as trustee once you are gone.
Can you answer these questions?
- Who is your primary trustee after you can no longer handle your affairs?
- Who is the next in line to serve as trustee after that person/financial institution?
- Do you still have a relationship with that person?
- Do you have accounts at the bank/financial institution?
- Is the bank/institution still in business or has it changed names?
- Do you know which of your assets are in the trust and which are outside?
- Are the terms of your trust still current with the ages of your children?
- Is the bank/institution still offering trustee services?
- What fees do the bank/financial institution charge?
- Are the fees competitive?
- Do you have assets at multiple banks/financial institutions?
- Does your trust hold life insurance?
- Do you know the term of the life insurance?
- Do you still work with the same life insurance agent?
- Do you have a Trust Protector named?
- Do you still have a relationship with the named Trust Protector?
- Is the trust revocable or irrevocable?
- Do you know if you need to file tax returns for the trust?
- Do you know who makes investments decisions for your trust if you can no longer handle your affairs?
- Have you divorced since your trust was formed?
- Have you had or adopted children since your trust was formed?
- Have you moved from the state in which your trust was formed?
- Did you purchase your trust from a door-to-door salesperson?
- Is the firm or company which prepared your trust still in business?
- Do you know what terms your trust provides for your family?
- Does your trust protect assets from creditors?
- Does your trust set forth tax planning strategies?
Unfortunately, very few of us can answer all of these questions with confidence. The bottom line is this: If you have a trust and it has not been reviewed in the last year, YOU NEED TO HAVE IT REVIEWED along with the titling of your assets and provisions in your Will and Power of Attorney to ensure compliance with updates in state and federal law and TO MAKE SURE YOUR IT DOES WHAT YOU THINK IT DOES!
Your estate plan needs maintained and updated just like your car, your vision, your teeth, etc. Do not assume that it will take care of everything throughout your lifetime. Laws change and families change. One of the worst feelings I have is when I meet with the family of a client who as passed away and they ask, “Why didn't Mom/Dad update this?” Give yourself peace of mind and make things simple for your family by having and maintaining an estate plan that addresses your changing needs and wishes.