This past month was somewhat difficult with my 77-year-old father’s illness and death from lung cancer. As I unwound his estate and disposed of his personal belongings, I started thinking about my mortality and how my copyrights would survive my passing. This prompted two major changes in my life: a living trust to organize my personal finances and converting my writing business into a limited liability company (LLC).
A Revocable Living Trust
As a single, unmarried and childless 42-year-old man with another 35 years to live, do I need to have a revocable living trust?
Not really. However, since I declared bankruptcy last year after being unemployed for two years and underemployed (working 20 hours per month) for six months, I’m rebuilding my finances from the ground up. Nothing focuses your mind on planning for the future than putting your assets into living trust.
I used Nolo’s Online Living Trust to create the initial documents for the living trust, designating my nephew as the successor trustee, and leaving my estate in equal shares to my nephew and niece. This arrangement may change in the future as I continue to live my life and grow my writing business. I can add amendments to reflect the changes or re-do the living trust as often as needed. If I become incapacitated, my successor trustee can follow the instructions in the living trust to unwind my estate to provide for my care. If I die, my estate can avoid going through the probate process.
My credit union notarized the living trust documents for free, and re-titled my checking and savings accounts into the name of the trust. Once the assets are in the trust, I no longer personally own those assets. As the grantor trustee, I still have full control over those assets. Although a revocable living trust provides no form of asset protection, and an opposing attorney can still go after the trust assets in a personal lawsuit, I need to keep this separateness in mind at all times.
Like a jigsaw puzzle, I’ll be adding additional financial accounts and assets to the living trust over the next few months to build a complete financial picture. I still need to create a “pour over” will to cover everything that isn’t in the trust yet. As my finances and writing business grows over the next few years, I’ll need the advice of an estate planning attorney to ensure I’m doing this right and taking advantage of any changes in the law.