Imagine preparing to travel on an incredible vacation – one for which you have spent your entire life planning. Now, imagine reaching your destination only to discover that you brought nothing with you but an empty suitcase! You have no clothes, no toiletries, and no other personal items that help make your travel experience easy and comfortable. Believe it or not, this is a perfect metaphor for your estate planning.
Think of your Trust as the suitcase and your entire estate plan as the vacation. You might spend a great deal of time on your estate planning, just as you would spend time planning your vacation. You want every detail accounted for, and you want your travel to be streamlined and worry-free. Much like your suitcase, your Trust is designed to help you organize your belongings and be sure they make it to the intended destination. However, you must actually put your belongings into the suitcase for it to serve its purpose. Similarly, you must actually fund your Trust with your assets to be sure your estate will ultimately be distributed in accordance with your wishes.
Sure, if you arrive with an empty suitcase, you can probably buy new clothes and toiletries. However, you can never be certain they will be the items you truly want, and you run the risk of not being able to get certain items at all. Additionally, if you have to buy all new clothes and personal items, you will incur added expenses that would normally not have been necessary. These same concepts apply to your Trust and the administration of your estate. Without a properly funded trust, you can never be certain that your assets will be distributed in the manner that is truly in keeping with your wishes. Furthermore, having an unfunded Trust will almost certainly result in additional legal services and fees that will be required to administer your estate. Your beneficiaries may be left with far less than you hoped and intended for them to receive. Or, even worse yet, there is the possibility that certain of your intended beneficiaries may not receive anything at all. Your Trust will not necessarily control assets that were never properly funded to the Trust.
We place great emphasis on the Trust funding process as part of our estate planning services, and we work closely with all of our clients to be sure all of their assets are “pointed in the right direction.” Please contact us to schedule a time to discuss your estate plan and your funding. We would be pleased to assist you in fulfilling all of your estate planning needs. Let’s pack that suitcase!