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Personal Information Needed by the Attorney

Your personal information that the attorney will need is: Who are the people that you care for? What do you own?

Give the attorney: (1) an inventory of your assets; (2) the names of the people to receive your assets (the beneficiaries); and (3) the name of the person to be in charge after your death (the successor trustee).

Many trusts, if not most, are straightforward and not complicated. A common trust plan is that after death your assets will be distributed reasonably quickly to the persons you love the most.

Exceptions may occur if the person making the trust is wealthy or if there is a blended family (prior marriages and different sets of children). But sometimes additional conditions are necessary because of the ages of your beneficiaries.

(1). A basic inventory would state the total net value of your assets and the net value of your house and other real estate. This would be sufficient in many cases. Or the inventory can be more detailed and set out categories of assets with a value for the category (i.e., for savings and checking accounts; stocks and bonds; IRA’s; life insurance; etc.). Stating each asset and its value is generally not necessary. But keeping such an inventory could be beneficial for the successor trustee in rounding up your assets at your death. The attorney will have a form for you to use (see our attached confidential questionnaire).

(2).When listing the people who will inherit from you, you can use their common names (nicknames are acceptable provided the person can be indentified; distinguish between persons with similar names); middle initials can replace full middle names. Neither addresses, date of birth, or social security numbers are necessary. But it is helpful for the successor trustee to have a list of names and addresses.

(3). Name a person, called a successor trustee, to handle the administration of the trust after your death. The person (his or her honesty and trust worthiness are assumed) should be well organized, keep good records, attend to important matters promptly, pay bills on time, keep an accurate and complete check register, handle beneficiaries with diplomacy, able to “put out fires” rather than cause them – the list is long.

We recommend you name only one person for the job. Having co-trustees often causes problems. They must act together on all matters. Honest differences of opinion are avoided.

Don’t appoint the successor trustee based on seniority. Your youngest child might be best suited to handle this often tedious job.

 

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