Free your heirs from enormous legal fees, court involvement, and lost privacy

Free your heirs from enormous legal fees, court involvement, and lost privacy

Why do I need a living trust?

Living trusts are the only surefire way to avoid probate—the legal process of proving the validity of a Last Will and Testament. For all but the smallest estates, probate is unavoidable without a living trust.

On average, probate costs 5%–10% of the gross value of your estate, paid from your heirs’ inheritance. The gross value of your estate is the total value of all your assets, without subtracting any outstanding debts or loans.

In some cases, probate attorneys will ask the court for additional fees—which are often approved—pushing the total cost of probate as high as 15%.

For an estate valued at $2 million, this could deprive your heirs of as much as $300,000 of their inheritance.

Some attorneys or financial advisors will tell you that your estate will be exempt from probate if its total value is less than $5.45 million.

Unfortunately, this isn’t true—they’re confusing probate with the estate tax exemption, which has nothing to do with probate.

In most states, probate will apply if the total value of your estate is $100,000 or more. If you own real estate it will be much less.

Ensure your heirs get their inheritance fast and privately

A living trust can be settled privately in a matter of weeks by your successor trustee and beneficiaries—usually without attorney or court involvement.

Probate, on the other hand, takes a lot of time. The average duration of probate is from 9 months to 2 years. It’s not uncommon, however, for probate to stretch on even longer.

One of the purposes of probate is to make your assets public record so that creditors can make claims. This can, and does, happen. It’s part of what makes the probate process so long.

For creditors to be notified, the contents of your estate must be made public record. This means the contents of your estate are published and available for anyone who cares to look, sacrificing all your privacy.

A will can be contested by anyone who can make a convincing case that your wishes might have changed since the document was drafted.

A living trust, however, cannot usually be contested. A trust typically states that a beneficiary who wants to contest your wishes will forfeit his or her inheritance altogether.

Keep control of your assets in hands you trust

A living trust allows you to retain total control over your estate, unlike a will. With a will, control of your assets is transferred to the court during probate. Your heirs have no access to their inheritance until probate is complete.

With a living trust, ownership of your assets is retained by the trust, and control of your estate is transferred to your successor trustee.

No part of your estate is made public record. The only persons with legal access to the documents are your successor trustee, and in some states, your beneficiaries.

This limited access prevents family disputes over inheritance, and eliminates interference from anyone you don’t want to be included.

A living trust gives you total control over you estate’s distribution

A living trust lets you distribute a portion of assets on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis to provide for the living expenses of minor children, or children with special needs.

Distribute your assets in predefined amounts to prevent misuse by irresponsible beneficiaries.

A living trust lets you stipulate that a beneficiary only receives their inheritance under certain conditions, such as completing a rehab program or completing their education.

How does a living trust reduce estate and capital gains taxes?

Federal Estate Tax

In some cases, federal estate tax is unavoidable, even with a living trust. However, a married couple using what’s called an A/B living trust can effectively double the federal estate tax exemption of $5.45 million.

In this case, the value of the estate is split between the two partners, and on the death of the first partner, the estate is evaluated for the estate tax at his or her half of the total value. This way, estates totaling as much as $10.9 million can be sheltered from estate taxes entirely.

Capital Gains Tax

Property transferred through a living trust receives stepped-up tax basis. Basis is the number used to determine whether a property is eligible for capital gains tax when it is sold.

Without a step-up in basis, the property is usually valued at its original purchase price, and capital gains tax is due at the time of inheritance.

However, with a step-up in basis, the property is transferred to its new owner at its current market value, without triggering capital gains tax. If the beneficiary sells the house shortly after inheriting it, little or no capital gains taxes will be realized, since the value of the home will have changed very little from the time the step-up in basis was applied.

Put your emergency life support wishes in writing

In the case of a tragic accident or health emergency that leaves you incapacitated and unable to make decisions, your family and doctors will be faced with painful end-of-life decisions about your care.

Without a clear statement of your wishes, your doctors and family will be left guessing and debating about what to do next.

A living trust includes a living will, a legal statement—written by you to your doctors—stating your wishes about life support if you ever become incapacitated.

A living will allows you to instruct your doctors on whether they should maintain life support, and to what extent they should exhaust all medical options.

A living trust also includes several other options that allow you to make important preparations for your death or incapacity.

A living trust allows you to appoint a person of your choice to retain the legal right to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Appointing Assets Durable Power of Attorney allows your chosen person to make decisions for you regarding your assets and business affairs.

Appointing Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to choose a person to make decisions for you regarding life support and the exhaustion of medical options if you’re terminally ill or mentally incapacitated.

In many cases, a living trust avoids the need for a court-appointed conservator—or legal guardian of your estate—as control of your assets passes to your successor trustee if you become incapacitated.

In the rare case that a conservator is necessary, a living trust lets you appoint one ahead of time, while you’re mentally sound.

This will significantly speed up the conservatorship proceedings, which are otherwise expensive and intrusive to your family’s privacy.

A living trust also lets you state your wishes regarding:

  • Donating vital organs for medical use
  • Donating your body for scientific use
  • Burial instructions
  • Appointment of legal guardians for minor children

Heritage Guarantees Quality

Living Trust Experts

Heritage Living Trust has specialized in producing quality trusts since 1989. We’ve kept an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau and have never had a client complaint in our 27 years of business.

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One-time Flat Fee

Attorneys who prepare trusts charge by the hour, and seemingly inexpensive online services end up costing far more once you’ve included all the extras that come standard with a Heritage trust.

Heritage Living Trust charges a flat fee, and you’re only charged once for the life of your trust.

Privacy Guarantee

Heritage does not market, sell, or recommend any financial products, insurance, annuities, or investments. We do not sell or share our client information with anyone, ever.

Free support and changes for the life of your trust

Heritage Living Trust provides changes and amendments to your trust—free—for the life of your trust, as well as free email and phone support. This alone could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your trust versus having one made through an attorney, who charges by the hour for these services.

It is a good idea to review your living trust at least once a year to make any necessary changes.

As a general rule, you should change your trust anytime it no longer states your exact wishes for the distribution of your estate.

Any big changes in your family, such as a marriage, divorce, death, or birth could justify a change in your trust.

If your successor trustees, guardians, or Power of Attorneys can no longer fulfill their responsibilities, you should make changes to your appointments accordingly.

What’s Included

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Abstract or Certificate of Trust

A short-form version of your living trust document. This document can be presented to your bank or any other authority if they request a copy of your trust.

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The Living Trust

The full trust document which contains your wishes.

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Schedules

Lists all the assets you want in your Trust, including provisions for Real Estate and Personal Property.

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Personal Property Transfers and Disposition of Personal Effects

Specify bequests of specific personal property such as, jewelry, collectables, family heirlooms, and pets.

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Amendments to the Trust

Allows you to make changes in your trust, yourself. To do so, note the desired change, then initial, date, notarize, and it’s done.

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Pour-over Will

Directs all assets inadvertently left out of the trust to be “poured over” into the trust once they have cleared probate. This assures only one channel of distribution for your assets.

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Living Wills

This document instructs your doctors how to proceed if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious. It allows you to state the extent of medical options you’d like exhausted before the decision is made to end your life, in the case you’re unable to make the decision yourself.

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Assets Durable Power of Attorney

Allows a trusted person—appointed by you—to make financial decisions in your place if you become incapacitated.

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Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Allows you to appoint a person to make medical decisions for you when you are incapacitated and unable to make those decisions for yourself.

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Burial Instructions

Allows you to determine and record your decisions about your burial or cremation.

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Instructions Regarding Donation of Anatomical Gifts

Allows you to specify details regarding the donation of your vital organs, or your entire body, for medical or scientific use.

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Settlor Trustee Instructions

Contains complete instructions for the settlement of your estate. Your appointed successor trustees can successfully close your estate by following these instructions.

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Essential Documents Location

Allows you to record details of your life, and location of important papers. It also lets you list advisors you depended on, such as your pastor, attorney, or accountant.

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Last Instructions To Your Family

Allows you to write a final, private letter to your family and hold it in confidence until your death.

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Appointment of Guardian for Minors

Allows you to assign a legal guardian for your minor children or disabled adult dependent children.

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Appointment of Conservator

Allows you to assign a Conservator of the Person for yourself in the event you become permanently incapacitated through illness, accident, or old age, avoiding the need for a court-appointed conservatorship.

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Separate Property Agreements (A-B Trust Only)

Allow you to legally define sole and separate property between spouses, especially in community-property states.

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Also Included

  • Second copies of all Power of Attorneys and living will for your successor trustee(s).
  • Our book, The Living Trust Companion.
  • Free reasonable changes, as necessary, for the life of your trust.
  • Free drafting of Quit Claim Deeds for transfer of real property into the trust.

What Our Customers Are Saying

“Heritage Living Trust’s service was above and beyond my expectations. In 2007, after marrying again, my husband and I had them set up a new A-B trust, which we have amended several times since then, at no extra cost. We have been completely satisfied and appreciate all their patience, hard work, and professionalism.”

Chris S., California

“Thank you Heritage Staff and Associates for providing the type of customer service a consumer only dreams of. I’ve been so impressed with their fast and accurate responses to my many questions, explained in terms I can understand. I’m confident that Heritage Living Trust has given me the security my family needs for the future.”

Z. Gibbs, Colorado

Request a Free Consultation Today

Let’s start with a conversation about your estate planning needs. Request a free, no-obligation consultation with a Heritage representative.