Asset List – There are two phases in establishing an Estate Plan. Drafting and execution of the Living Trust document is the first phase. Funding of the Trust (see below) is the second phase. While the provisions of the Living Trust are being developed based upon the input of the client(s), financial information is also collected. The Asset List is a list of assets that are held in the name of the Trust. When the Living Trust is first established, the Asset List serves as a “to do list” – “funding the Trust”. At the time of the death of the owner(s) of the Living Trust, it serves as a guide to the successor Trustee as to what assets to collect (marshal is the legal term) in order to distribute those assets to the beneficiaries named in the Living Trust.
The term “funding the Trust” is basically a simple matter of changing the way assets are held from being held under individual names, to the same person’s names, as Trustees I(i.e – “John Smith and Martha Smith”, re-title their assets as, John Smith and Martha Smith, Co-Trustees”). For real property, a deed is prepared for each item of real property, which is executed and then recorded. Funding letters are used to inform investment companies by mail and may be taken in person to local financial institutions (banks, credit unions, etc.) instructing them to change their records to show that the person(s) now own their accounts as Trustee(s). (Detailed Funding Instructions are included with each Estate Plan)
The end result of this re-titling is that when the person or persons die and their successor Trustee produces a death certificate, a copy of the Living Trust and their identification, at that point they have the legal standing to serve as the manager of those assets/funds on behalf of the beneficiaries.