Estate planning can be a complicated process, no matter the size of your estate. When you are deciding how to distribute your assets, setting up a trust in Arizona may be a good option. Here’s what you should know.
Disclaimer: Please note that this article is not intended to be legal advice. You should always talk to an attorney who is skilled at estate planning about your unique situation.
Do I need a trust in Arizona?
If you are interested in setting up an estate plan that goes into effect while you are still living, then a trust might be good for you.
Unlike a will that is executed after you pass, a trust allows you to transfer management of your property and finances to someone else should you be unable to manage them yourself due to illness or incapacity. A trust can also distribute property, specify contingencies, and outline how assets are to be used, both while you are still alive (a living trust) and after you are gone.
A trust can also help your dependents avoid the Arizona court’s probate process. Probate can delay distribution of property and create a public record of your assets. Trusts may also protect larger estates from some taxes.
Where do I start setting up a trust in Arizona?
Before setting up a trust, it’s wise to talk to an attorney experienced in Arizona trust matters. While it’s possible to forge ahead on your own, an experienced attorney can help you avoid problems. Further, a trust attorney can outline all of your options (i.e., wills vs. trusts) to help you choose which is best for your situation.
There are a few basic steps to creating a trust.
1. Decide on the type of trust and name a trustee
This first step lays out the type of trust you are creating. Unique options that may match your situation includes testamentary trusts that are formed after your death or special needs trusts that can help families with special needs individuals.
You will also name a trustee in this step. The trustee is responsible for executing the trust if you become incapacitated, either upon your death or while still living. You can be your own trustee while you are alive. However, you must name a successor trustee in case you are unable to execute the responsibilities of the trust.
The trustee is also responsible for federal obligations regarding taxes and accounting. They must file the decedent’s personal tax returns as well as tax documents for the estate. You should consider your choice of trustee very carefully.
2. Inventory your assets
Create a detailed inventory of the assets that will be part of your trust. This can include personal property, businesses, and any other assets in your estate.
For smaller estates, this is a simple process, but for large, complex estates, this step may be challenging and time-consuming.
3. Create the trust document
It is possible to create your own self-service trust document using forms downloaded from the internet. But you can also consult with a trust or tax attorney. Considering the tax implications of a trust and the best way to structure it before creating it can help you make the most of your estate.
The trust document will also outline ongoing maintenance and handling. How will profits be invested? When will distributions to beneficiaries be made? Are there any limits or conditions for beneficiaries? Under what circumstances will a successor trustee take over?
This important document outlines how the trust functions. To ensure you have an ironclad trust, sign your documents in front of a notary.
4. Transfer property
A trust is a document with no power until you transfer assets to it. The procedure for this depends on the type of asset.
For example, you can transfer real estate by filing a quitclaim deed or deed to the trust. There can be tax implications for certain assets. It is best to speak with a tax attorney or an estate planning attorney to determine the best method for transferring your property.
How much does it cost to set up a trust?
Anyone with an internet connection and a hundred dollars (or less) can set up a simple will. However, setting up a trust can be more complicated. It is possible to use forms on the internet to set up the trust, but for complicated estates just filling out a generic form won’t provide the help your unique situation demands.
For example, if you have multiple businesses and investments, children of varying ages and needs, or real property that is spread across the globe, chances are good you will need professional help.
So how much will this cost? Your attorney will generally charge you an hourly rate or project-based rate (along with any associated court fees, if necessary). If your estate is complicated, they will spend more time on it, increasing your cost. On the other hand, if your estate is straightforward and you are able to provide clear and concise information for them to work with, this can streamline the process.
The best way to find out if setting up a trust in Arizona is right for you is to consult with an attorney directly.
ARTEMiS Law Firm specializes in trusts that work for you and your unique situation. With advanced experience in Arizona estate planning, we can help you create a trust to meet the needs of you and your family. Get in touch today.Contact Us