Make Your Own Living Trust (by Attorney Denis Clifford)

Buy 'Your Legal Companion for Making Your Own Living Trust' Buy: Make Your Own Living Trust: setting up a trust. Buy 'Trustee's Legal Companion' Buy: The Trustee's Legal Companion: how to administer a trust.

Why read Make Your Own Living Trust

The book shows you how to:

Warnings: Not valid in Louisiana; update for California.

See the NOLO website for recent information including a revised Notary form for California Living Trusts.


Introduction: Your Legal Companion for Making Your Own Living Trust

Brief introduction to this practical workbook.

1. Overview of Living Trusts

  1. Living Trusts Explained
  2. Probate and Why You Want to Avoid It
  3. Avoiding Probate
  4. Living Trusts and Estate Taxes
  5. Other Advantages of a Living Trust
  6. Possible Drawbacks of a Living Trust

2. Human Realities and Living Trusts

  1. Leaving Unequal Amounts of Property to Children
  2. Second or Subsequent Marriages
  3. Single People
  4. Disinheriting a Child
  5. Unmarried Couples
  6. Same-Sex Couples
  7. Communicating Your Decisions to Family and Friends

3. Common Questions About Living Trusts

  1. Does Everyone Need a Living Trust?
  2. If I Prepare a Living Trust, Do I Need a Will?
  3. How Can I Leave Trust Property to Children and Young Adults?
  4. Will My Living Trust Reduce Estate Taxes?
  5. Will I Have to Pay Gift Taxes?
  6. Will a Living Trust Shield My Property From Creditors?
  7. Do I Need a 'Catastrophic Illness Clause' in My Trust?
  8. How Does Where I Live Affect My Living Trust?
  9. Can I Place Real Estate in a Living Trust?
  10. Can I Sell or Give Away Trust Property While I'm Alive?
  11. Is a Bank Account Held in Trust Insured by the FDIC?
  12. Will Property in My Living Trust Get a 'Stepped-Up' Tax Basis When I Die?
  13. Who Must Know About My Living Trust?
  14. What About Free Living Trust Seminars?
  15. Could Someone Challenge My Living Trust?

4. What Type of Trust Do You Need?

  1. If You Are Single
  2. If You Are Part of a Couple
  3. Individual Trusts for Members of a Couple
  4. Basic Shared Living Trusts
  5. AB Disclaimer Trusts

5. The Tax-Saving AB Trust

  1. The Purpose of an AB Trust
  2. How an AB Disclaimer Trust Works
  3. Is Nolo's AB Disclaimer Trust Right for You?

6. Choosing What Property to Put in Your Living Trust

  1. Listing the Property to Be Put in Your Trust
  2. Property You Should Not Put in Your Living Trust
  3. Property You Can Put in Your Living Trust
  4. Marital Property Laws
  5. Completing the Property Worksheet

7. Trustees

  1. The Initial Trustee
  2. The Trustee After One Spouse's Death or Incapacity
  3. The Successor Trustee

8. Choosing Your Beneficiaries

  1. Kinds of Trust Beneficiaries
  2. Naming Your Primary Beneficiaries
  3. Simultaneous Death Clauses
  4. Shared Gifts
  5. Some Common Concerns About Beneficiaries
  6. Naming Alternate Beneficiaries
  7. Residuary Beneficiaries
  8. Disinheritance
  9. Putting Conditions on Beneficiaries
  10. Property That Is No Longer in Your Trust at Your Death
  11. Beneficiary Worksheets

9. Property Left to Minor Children or Young Adults

  1. Property Management Options
  2. Which Method Is Better for You: Child's Trust or Custodianship?
  3. Tax-Saving Educational Investment Plans
  4. Child's Trusts
  5. Custodianships

10. Preparing Your Living Trust Document

Buy 'Your Legal Companion for Making Your Own Living Trust' Buy: Make Your Own Living Trust: setting up a trust. Buy 'Trustee's Legal Companion' Buy: The Trustee's Legal Companion: how to administer a trust.

  1. Choosing the Right Trust Form
  2. Making Changes to a Trust Form
  3. Step-by-Step Instructions
  4. Prepare Your Final Trust Document
  5. Consider Having Your Work Checked by a Lawyer
  6. Sign Your Living Trust in Front of a Notary

11. Transferring Property to Your Trust

  1. Paperwork
  2. Technical Ownership (p.152 onward). "If, after the trust has been created, you acquire property you want to hold in trust, you can simply take ownership in the trustee's name directly."
  3. Certifications of Trust (p.152 onward).
      "A certificate of trust . . . is a kind of shorthand version of the trust document. You may find one useful when actually transferring property to your trust. County records offices, banks, or other institutions may require proof that the trust exists, without revealing the heart of it – that is, what property is in it and who will inherit. . .
      Most states have statutes that set out the requirement for a certification of trust. . . Typically, certifications show:
    • that the trust was created (the first page of the trust document will do)
    • who the original trustees are
    • the date the trust was created (the date the trust document was signed)
    • what the trustees' powers are . . .
    • the signature(s) of the grantor(s), and
    • the notarization of the trust document."
    [pp. 152-153]
    Buy: Make Your Own Living Trust

  4. Real Estate
  5. Bank Accounts and Safe Deposit Boxes
  6. Securities
  7. Vehicles, Boats, and Planes
  8. Business Interests
  9. Limited Partnerships
  10. Copyrights
  11. Patents
  12. Royalties

12. Copying, Storing, and Registering Your Trust Document

  1. Making Copies
  2. Storing the Trust Document
  3. Registering the Trust

13. Living With Your Living Trust

  1. Adding Property to Your Living Trust
  2. Selling or Giving Away Trust Property
  3. When to Amend Your Living Trust Document (p. 171 onward).
    Triggers listed by Clifford can include:
    • Marriage or divorce or death of the spouse.
    • Childbirth.
    • Move to another state.
    • You change your name.
    • A major beneficiary die.
    • You want to alter to ownership of some trust property.
    [pp. 172-174]
    Buy: Make Your Own Living Trust

  4. Who Can Amend a Living Trust Document
  5. How to Amend Your Trust Document
  6. Revoking Your Living Trust

14. After a Grantor Dies

  1. Who Serves as Trustee After the Grantor's Death.
    The "successor" trustee takes over when the original trustee(s) die or become incapacitated.
  2. The Trustee's Duties (p.181 onward).
    "Every trustee must take two steps as soon as he or she assumes responsibility for your living trust: The trustee must execute and record a document establishing that he or she can act for the trust and must obtain at least a rough estimate of the value of major trust assets."

    [pp. 181]

    Buy: Make Your Own Living Trust

  3. Transferring Property to Beneficiaries
    "To obtain the trust property, the trustee usually needs a copy of the grantor's death certificate ... and a copy of the trust document. ... Frequently an Affidavit of Assumption of duties by Successor Trust will also be needed ... in some cases some [property-specific] other paperwork."

    [pp. 188]

    Buy: Make Your Own Living Trust

  4. Preparing and Filing Tax Returns
    These might include federal and state tax returns, as well as final federal (and state) income tax returns for the deceased grantor [who created the trust]. Responsibility usually falls to the successor trustee and to the executor named in the deceased grantor's will; these are most often the same person.

  5. Administering a Child's Trust
  6. Administering a Custodianship

15. A Living Trust as Part of Your Estate Plan

  1. Using a Backup Will (p.194 onward).
    "Even though you create a living trust, you will need a simple backup will, too. Like a living trust, a will is a document in which you specify what is to be done with your property when you die."

    [pp. 194]

    Buy: Make Your Own Living Trust

  2. Other Probate-Avoidance Methods
  3. Federal Gift and Estate Taxes
  4. State Inheritance and Estate Taxes
  5. Planning for Incapacity (p.208 onward). Documents could include:
  6. Long-Term Trusts to Control Property

16. Wills

  1. Why Prepare a Backup Will?
  2. What You Can Do in a Backup Will (p.215 onward). Interestingly Clifford is not enthusiastic for the 'pour-over will' which:
    "takes all the property you haven't transferred to your living trust and, at your death, leaves it ('pours it over') to that trust. . . . In fact, pour-over wills [writes Clifford] are not very desirable, in my opinion, for most people with a living trust."

    "Pour-over wills do not avoid probate. All property that is left through a will — any kind of will — must go through probate, unless the amount left is small enough to qualify for exemption from normal probate laws. Probate is most definitely not avoided simply because the beneficiary of a will is a living trust."

    [pp. 215]

    Buy: Make Your Own Living Trust

  3. Pour-Over Wills
  4. Avoiding Conflicts Between Your Will and Your Living Trust
  5. Filling In the Will Form
  6. Signing and Witnessing Your Will

17. If You Need Expert Help

  1. Hiring a Lawyer to Review Your Living Trust
  2. Working With an Expert
  3. Lawyer Fees
  4. Doing Your Own Legal Research

Glossary and Appendixes

  1. Glossary
  1. Appendix A: Using the eForms; Editing RTFs; List of eForms.

  2. Appendix B: The Forms are:


Buy 'Your Legal Companion for Making Your Own Living Trust' Buy: Make Your Own Living Trust: setting up a trust. Buy 'Trustee's Legal Companion' Buy: The Trustee's Legal Companion: how to administer a trust.