If your parents have reached an age where they need help with their finances, you may have already stepped in to help. If not, it’s important that you sit down with them and discuss their financial health. Find out if their assets have been managed appropriately, if they have adequate savings, or if they have a lot of debt. To ensure that your parents’ finances are protected and managed accordingly, they need a living trust.
What is a living trust?
A living trust is a legal document that dictates how to manage your parents’ assets and property and what will happen to them when your parents pass away. When your parents pass away or become incapacitated, the trustee will take over the management of their assets and property. Unlike wills, trusts remain private and do not have to go through probate, saving time and money.
Related article: What is the Probate Process if You Die Without a Will or Trust?
How can I help my parents set up a living trust?
The first step to setting up a living trust is to get organized. Start by making a list of all your parents’ assets and gathering all the necessary documents such as deeds, titles, stock certificates, life insurance policies, etc. Next, your parents will need to choose the beneficiaries to receive their assets upon their death. Beneficiaries could include family, friends, or charitable organizations.
Your parents will also need to choose a successor trustee. With a living trust, your parents will be their own trustees so they can continue to control their assets. When they die or become incapacitated, the successor trustee will step in to manage financial affairs, pay debts, and distribute assets accordingly. After you and your parents have cataloged their assets, gathered documents, and chosen beneficiaries and trustees, you’re ready to create the living trust document.
Do I need to hire an attorney to set up a living trust?
Many people choose to hire an estate planning attorney to prepare their living trust, but this isn’t a legal requirement. If you decide to create the living trust without professional assistance, make sure to sign the trust document before a notary public. Then, your parents’ assets will need to be transferred to the trust to fund it. While hiring an attorney is not legally necessary, it is recommended. Especially for complex estate plans.
Related article: What is Trust Accounting for a Trust?
How else can I help my elderly parents?
Whether you’ve got a full plate or you live out of state, if you can’t provide the financial management and eldercare that your parents need, consider hiring professional help.
Marcia L. Campbell, CPA, an experienced CPA who specializes in seniors, provides a variety of eldercare management services. If you need help with your family’s finances, please don’t hesitate to contact us or call us at 951-686-3608.