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By Jason Carrozza

Happy Wednesday! This week we are discussing things that can slip through the cracks.

We administer many probates each year where clients end up dealing with the courts despite the fact that they established a trust. A Revocable Living Trust is an excellent way to keep your family out of probate, detail when and how your family will receive distributions, save on estate taxes, and even create creditor protection for your children. The most important part of the trust however, is that you actually complete the funding process. Funding consists of re-titling your assets in the name of your trust and/or making sure that you properly complete your beneficiary designation form.

Here are the biggest mistakes we see when it comes to properly funding your trust:

  1. Failing to transfer real estate into your trust, especially if you own property in a different state;
  2. Failing to complete beneficiary designation forms on items such as life insurance or retirement policies; and
  3. Failing to transfer bank accounts in your trust.

The bottom line is that if you pass away with items solely in your name, or items without a beneficiary designation, your family will be dealing with the probate court. Just because the trust was executed does not mean you automatically have probate avoidance. It is the funding process that keeps you out of court.

So, has it been a few years since you reviewed your assets and how they’re titled? Have you created a trust and are unsure whether you’ve funded it? Do you know that it’s time to get a trust in place to keep your family out of the probate court? If any of these apply, or you’re just feeling like you need a check-up, please contact us today. Let’s make sure we have all of your assets organized for a smooth transition.

About the Author
Jason M. Carrozza is a partner and founder of Family Legal Partners, P.C., previously owning Carrozza Law Office, P.C., which focused on estate planning, probate administration, and business formation. He was recognized as a Massachusetts Rising Star by New England Super Lawyers and Boston Magazine in 2014, 2015, and 2016, an honor given to no more than 5% of attorneys in the state. Graduating magna cum laude from New England Law and ranked 3rd in his class, Jason completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Tampa. He gained experience in civil litigation, divorce, corporate, and insurance defense law firms before opening his practice in 2004. Jason is admitted to practice before the Massachusetts Courts, is a trained family law mediator, and a member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. He has volunteered for pro bono panels with Senior Partners For Justice, South Middlesex Legal Services, and the New Center for Legal Advocacy. Dedicated to his community, he has served in various leadership roles including vice president of the Bellingham Business Association and Master of Excelsior Lodge of Massachusetts Freemasons. He teaches Estate Planning Basics at the Tri County Continuing Adult Education program and speaks at estate planning seminars throughout the year. An avid baseball fan and history enthusiast, Jason enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with his family. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Katrina, and their children, Zachary and Madelyn.