Early in my career, I had clients sign a funding acknowledgment when we signed their estate planning documents.
That acknowledgment was my way of telling clients it’s essential that they connect substantially all their assets to their trusts. Otherwise, the thing they wanted to avoid — probate — would be necessary.
In the last two weeks alone, I have talked with three clients who recently acquired new assets in their individual names. Not small assets. Big ones — a multi-million dollar house, an 8 figure investment account, and a controlling interest in a successful HVAC business.
If the client with the new house dies before we get the title transferred to his trust, that family is looking at probate legal fees of about $60,000.
I’m going to start using funding acknowledgments again because I don’t want family members to look at me as if I did something wrong. I can help clients keep their assets aligned with their trusts, but I’m not a mind reader. I don’t know when a client buys a new house. They have to tell me.
If your estate plan is in place, take a few minutes over the weekend to confirm that your assets are appropriately titled. If you aren’t sure, call your estate planning attorney for advice.
If you don’t have your estate plan in place, now’s the perfect time to take care of that.