Probate is often a lengthy and expensive process that leaves property and beneficiaries up in the air while the will moves slowly through the court process. You can avoid probate altogether by drawing up a living trust template and then filling in the blanks to create a living trust that holds title to your property. A living trust can be modified or revoked at any time as your situation changes. Working from a template allows modification of the meat of the document while leaving its skeletal structure intact. Once the template is created, save it using the "save as template" function of your word-processing software.
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Title the first section of the template "Trustee and Successor Trustee." State that the named individual shall serve as trustee during the trustor's lifetime and leave a space or type a blank line for the person's name and address. Usually in a living trust, the trustor (the person who establishes the trust) is also the initial trustee. State that in the event the named individual is unable to serve for any reason, a second individual shall serve as successor trustee, and leave a space or type a blank line for the name and address. Skip a space and state that the trustee and successor trustee shall have the following powers and duties. Leave a small paragraph-sized blank space in which to fill in the powers and duties of the trustee/successor trustee, such as what decisions the trustee is allowed to make regarding any income the trust assets may generate or insurance needed to protect trust assets.
Dedicate the second section of the template to the assets of the living trust. This section need consist of only a sentence stating that title to or ownership of the property listed on "Schedule A" has been transferred by the trustor into the name of the trust. Title a separate page "Schedule A" and leave the rest of the page blank for filling in the names and descriptions of the property transferred to the trust, such as cars and their VIN numbers, and real property with corresponding legal descriptions usually found on the property deeds.
Label section three of the template "Beneficiaries". Type numbers or blank lines for the name and address and relationship to the trustor of each beneficiary. Under each name leave adequate space to add the trust property that individual is to receive.
Dedicate section four of the template to distribution of assets. This paragraph will not change and requires no blanks or spaces for additional information. State that the trustor reserves the right to revoke the trust at any time and retains all rights to the trust property while living. Specify that distrubtion of trust assets happens upon the trustor's death.
Add lines for the trustor and at least two witnesses to sign and date the living trust document. Add a standard notary designation so the document can be property notarized.
Tips & Warnings
Keep Schedule A and all titles and deeds to property listed in Schedule A with the completed, signed and notarized trust document in a safe or safety deposit box.
Consider reading the trust statutes of your state or consulting a lawyer to ensure that any requirements specific to your state are included in the trust document. Add any state-required language into the template as appropriate.
References & Resources
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