Posted On 8/3/2012
Following are the most common questions that our Associate Attorney, Justin M. Kennedy, is asked by our clients, together with Justin’s answers to those questions:
- Question: Is my Trust revocable? Justin’s Answer: You can check page 1-1 of your Trust to find out if your trust is revocable. However, some Trusts become, at least partially, irrevocable upon the death of a spouse, so if this has happened, give our office a call and we will clarify your document for you.
- Question: I am filling out a form and it asks who is the Grantor/Settlor/Trustor of my living Trust? Justin’s Answer: You are the Grantor/Settlor/Trustor. See how those titles all have “or” at the end, think of them as meaning the originator or creator of the Trust, the one whose assets were put into the Trust. And if that was you, then you are the Grantor, Settlor, Trustor of your Trust.
- Question: I want to update my Trust – perhaps updating my Trustees and/or my Beneficiaries, what do I do? Justin’s Answer: Call our office and we will send you a review questionnaire. Filling out the questionnaire can help you to figure out if there are other changes you may like to make at the same time. Then when we receive the questionnaire back we will call you to discuss the next step in the process.
- Question: What is the fee to amend my Trust? Justin’s Answer: The fee for an amendment depends on what is being changed and how many additional documents will need to be updated as well (Trust, Will, Property Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney). But we will always quote a flat fee ahead of time and explain how the fee was generated.
- Question: I want to refinance my house which is in the Trust, is there anything I should do? Justin’s Answer: You are welcome to refinance with the property owned by the Trust, but the bank will likely ask for a lot of information regarding your Trust. The bank needs to verify that you as Trustee have the authority to mortgage the property, so they will have you complete forms and may ask to see a copy of the entire trust. If you refinance a property and the bank has you take the property out of your trust, make sure that you prepare a new deed putting the property back into your trust upon the completion of the refinance process. A strategy that we recommend to bypass this is for you to call our office and authorize us to create two deeds for $75 each. The first deed will take the property out of the Trust and the second deed will put the property back into the Trust. Then we have you sign both deed deeds at the same time. However, we only record with the county the first deed taking the property out of Trust. That way the bank does not need to do anything with your Trust as the property is owned in your name(s) outside of the Trust. Then when the refinance process is finished, you call our office and only then will we record the second deed moving the house back into the Trust.
- Question: How often should I review my schedule A (A, B, C – if married) of the list of assets within the trust? Justin’s Answer: Annually. The Schedules are a great resource to inform your successor Trustee of where you keep your money and approximately how much is in each account. This is useful as it can raise red flags in cases of elder financial abuse.
- Question: If there is a change in an asset, do I need to call your office or make an appointment? Justin’s Answer: It depends. If you bought a new property, did you buy it in the name of your Trust, if not then call our office to have us prepare a new deed for you putting the property into the Trust. If the change is that you are using a new bank, or you have a new bank account number, or the amount in the account has changed, then you can update your schedules yourself using forms available on our website. If it is a new account, make sure the account is owned by the Trust or has a payable on death beneficiary listed. To show only account balance changes, some clients find it easier to put one of their monthly bank statements into their binder every year.
- Question: How much does a digital copy of my Estate Planning documents cost? Justin’s Answer: Our office charges $150. Our office keeps the digital scans of the signature pages and the unsigned documents in separate digital files, so to create a digital copy, you are basically hiring a law office to insert scanned signature pages into a non-signed version of the documents. It may be cheaper to have the originals scanned at a Kinko’s. However, if you ever lose your original documents, we will be able to recreate them using our scanned records through a process known as an attorney certification of original documents.
If you are a client of our law firm and have questions regarding your estate plan, please feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call our office at (408) 356-9200 or (831) 476-2400.