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When a person who has a living trust dies the family may still need to go to probate court. A living trust is a special vehicle that holds and protects the assets that you accumulated during your lifetime, but it must be used for its intended purpose only.

For a trust to work, you have to get your assets into the trust.  Every type of property has a different way to get into the trust as well. For example, a house or real estate requires that the deed is transferred over to the trust but a bank account usually only requires that the name on the account is changed.

Attorneys will often refer to the process of getting everything transferred as “trust funding”. A responsible lawyer, who prepares your trust, will often assist you in getting your assets into the trust. Even if it’s going to cost you a little bit more, it is best to use that attorney’s expertise to get the trust funded properly.

Once you have had an attorney prepare a living trust and the trust has been funded by transferring all of your assets in, you will have to ensure that it is maintained.  Any assets that you purchase, an airplane for example, should be bought in the name of the trust and not your personal name.

It is also important that you check in with your trust attorney every couple of years.  You’ll want to update them on what is happening in your life and any changes in your situation.  Consider any new things you’ve bought, new accounts or investments you’ve started, any changes to your family situation.  These are your assets on the line, you should take the initiative to reach out to your attorney to make sure everything is up to date.

When your attorney helps you put together a living trust, they may also have you sign a will. Part of the reason is that a will can catch everything that you didn’t get into your trust.  When you die, your will does go through probate but the probate court can order that the missed assets go into the trust.  This can be a lengthy and expensive process and it’s much easier to put your assets into the trust beforehand.