Part 34
Thomas M. Boles, 33, G.C.

It is essential for your Living Trust to have accurate titles and updated beneficiary designations.

Please Note: This information is distributed with the understanding that the author is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expertise is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. From: A Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers.

Hi ya folks! It has come to mind that we have shown many items on our "shelves," but one thing not mentioned is the subject of Changing Titles and Beneficiary Designations to benefit your estate.

If so directed, your attorney will probably transfer the title of your home for you as part of the cost of your Living Trust. In addition, he/she can also help you change other titles and beneficiary designations, or at least give you information on how to do it. You can deal directly with your bank or trust officer, savings and loan, credit union, employee benefits department, insurance agent, financial planner, accountant, or people in similar situations. Be sure to check with your attorney for the exact wording needed.

This is not at all difficult; however, you do have to take the time to do it properly. Remember, your living trust is not complete until you transfer your assets into it. Anything you leave out will probably have to be probated. Also, remember that anything you put into your trust can always be taken out at a later date. Further, you do not lose control of your property, and you can continue to buy and sell assets just as you did before.

Here is a sample check list that should be included as an "exhibit" of assets in your trust: your home, any real estate (whether raw land or developed land), commercial property and industrial property, condominiums, etc. All of these are considered to be "real property." Therefore, to put these into your trust, you will need to transfer the title from your name (exactly as it is worded on the original papers) to the name of your trust. For example, from "Tom and Virginia Boles, husband and wife" to "Tom and Virginia Boles, Trustees under trust dated March 1, 1997."

Depending on the state in which the property is located, you will use a correction deed or quitclaim to do this (you can also use a warranty or grant deed). Each deed will need to be notarized and recorded in the county where the property is located, including any out-of-state property you own. The attorney who prepares your trust document will probably automatically transfer your home to your living trust for you. For an additional charge, he or she will probably change other real estate titles for you, if you wish. Remember, in most cases this will not trigger a reassessment of the property taxes or disturb the current mortgage in any way. Just be certain to check with your attorney, to be sure.

Other items to check would include: mortgages or loans you owe, mortgages or loans owed to you; checking accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks and bonds or mutual funds, life insurance policies, and deferred savings plans. You may not be able to change the ownership of some deferred savings plans to your living trust, but your living trust can be the beneficiary. However, if you are married, you may decide to name your spouse as the first beneficiary and your living trust as second (alternate) beneficiary for tax reasons.

You and your spouse should discuss your options together and with your own personal tax advisor. You should also check with your employee benefits or personnel department that originates your deferred savings plan.

Other items might include: other employer-provided benefits, safe deposit boxes, automobiles, boats or other vehicles, sole proprietorships, your business licenses and DBA (Doing Business As) should be changed to show your living trust as the owner. Also, include solely owned corporations, partnership and/or corporate interests. In fact, just about everything in your estate that you do not want to be probated should be included.

Please be advised, however, that it is always best to have your attorney make changes for you. He or she is far more experienced in reviewing a check list of assets. Sometimes we're so close to the forest, we can't see the trees.

Please send me more information on the benefits of giving appreciated assets to the Scottish Rite Foundation, S.J., USA, please print this page and mail it to Brother Boles, address below:

For an investment of securities and/or real estate, please run a calculation and send it to me based on an investment of $__________. Assume the cost basis of the asset (what was originally paid, less depreciation) is $__________.

My birth date is _________________; My spouse’s is _________________.
Name ____________________________ Date _______________________
Address _______________________________________________________
City _________________________ State ________ Zip _______________

Send to: Scottish Rite Foundation, c/o Thomas M. Boles
1761 East Woodcrest Avenue, La Habra, CA 90631–3260

Please remember the Scottish Rite Foundation, S.J., USA,
with your gifts and in your will, 1–800–486–3331.