The most important step of the entire process is proper execution of the documents. Once your documents have been prepared, you will come into our Annapolis estate planning office for your final signing appointment. Some documents need to be notarized, some need multiple witnesses. During your final signing, we will provide a thorough explanation of the documents. Often you will be signing your Revocable Living Trust, a pour-over Will, two property Powers of Attorney – the statutory form and our supplemental form, a Health Care Power of Attorney, a Living Will, and your HIPAA (Medical) Release form. With the Revocable Living Trust, you will also sign a Certificate of Trust and an Assignment of Personal Property.
After the documents have been signed, witnessed and notarized, our paralegal reviews with you the funding letters, particularly if you have a Revocable Living Trust. The letters include an instruction sheet for each different type of asset, a cover letter to your financial institution explaining that you set up an estate plan, and often we will have the accompanying forms from the financial institutions. We spend quite a bit of time with you to make sure you understand what to do with this paperwork. Without funding your trust, you are missing the last step of the process. To transfer stock and mutual funds, a medallion guaranteed signature is required. This can be accomplished at your local bank. You will need to go to your bank in person to transfer your accounts, or make them payable on death. The IRA and life insurance beneficiary forms can often be mailed directly to your financial institution.
When you leave our office, you will have possession of your original documents and a flash-drive with a digital copy of your documents. In today’s world, an electronic version of your estate plan is necessary. You may not realize the value of the electronic version immediately; however, your successor trustee will appreciate having the flash-drive. We also ask that you write instructions for your funeral, as well as the intended distribution of your tangible personal property. Often the “stuff” is what the fights are about, so if you can make your wishes known now, hopefully your estate can be settled more amicably.
Remember, as a client of our law firm, you are entitled to free phone calls to ask questions regarding the funding of your living trust. Should you encounter a situation that is giving you resistance, please do not hesitate to call. We are happy to help. Please bear in mind that our paralegals are often with clients or on another call. You may be directed to their voicemail, but rest assured, they will call you back in a timely fashion. Breathe deep! Together we will get you through the process and you will have the peace of mind knowing that you have fully funded your trust.
SinclairProsser Law, LLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.