While creating a trust can be an effective estate planning technique, the best efforts of an individual could be for naught if the trust is not created properly. If assets are not titled in the name of the trust, those assets may need to go through the probate process. This process may be costly and is public, which may invite extra, potentially unwanted, scrutiny.
One way to avoid this issue is to create a pour over will. This type of will automatically puts assets into a trust at the time of an individual's death. For those who have an IRA or a 401k account, it is important to review the beneficiary forms that go with those accounts. Whoever is listed as the beneficiary will get the money in those accounts even if a will or trust says otherwise.
Keep in mind that a trustee will need to be named who will be responsible for following the directions of the trust. To avoid potential family drama, it may be worthwhile to hire a corporate trustee who has no relationship or allegiance to anyone in the family. This may help avoid a scenario where a family member has to deal with others who may have been disinherited or given a smaller share of the family fortune.
As trusts can be complex documents that may need to be amended every so often, it may be a good idea to have an attorney help create the trust. An attorney may ensure that it conforms to an individual's needs both now and in the future. It may also be possible for an attorney to keep documents organized or help update trust documents as an individual's circumstances change.