Set up a trust

Setting up a Trust is a simple way to distribute assets.
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Set up a Trust FAQs

Far too many people die without a Will or Trust and the distribution of their assets becomes a volatile, stressful family situation. You can avoid problems with settling your estate with a Will. Or by putting assets into a Trust. If you die without a Will, the state will decide what happens to your estate.

What is a Trust?

A Trust is a legal agreement between a minimum of three people -- a trustmaker, trustee, and a beneficiary. The trustmaker (likely you) is the one that puts the assets into the trust. The trustee holds and manages the assets. The beneficiaries are the recipients of the assets. Trust are commonly used because they can be used, unlike a Will, to distribute assets without having to go through probate. A Living Trust can be written to distributed upon your death, if you become disabled, or while you are still alive.

Should I hire an executor to distribute my assets after I die?

If you have a few assets, it may not be necessary. If you have a complicated estate and perhaps estranged family members you may avoid a lot of problems and family drama by hiring a professional executor. A professional executor such as a lawyer, accountant or trust company only charges a small percentage of your estate to manage paying your debt and distributing assets.

Does my family have to pay my debt?

Your estate, the money and assets you leave behind, will be used to pay your debt. But your family is not legally obligated to pay your debt. If you and your spouse carried mutual debt, your spouse will still be responsible for the shared debt. Most financial advisors recommend that you purchase enough life insurance to cover your mutual debt, so your spouse is not burdened with the entire debt.

What happens to my student loans when I die?

When you die, in most cases your student loans will be discharged. Your survivor will just need to supply the loan servicer a valid copy of your death certificate.

Other student loan debt situations:

  • If you have a co-signed loan, the cosigned will still be held liable.
  • If your parents took out the loan, they will still be held responsible.
  • If you signed for a private loan, your estate (if any) may be reduced to pay the debt.

If your parents hold student loan debt for you and you have graduated and are making payments, you may try to see if you can change to loan to your name only so your parents will not be liable if you pass.

What happens if I die without a Will?

If you die without a Will, state laws will dictate what happens to your debt and assets. Dying without a Will is called dying "intestate." Most often assets are distributed to family members. If you died while in a relationship, but not married, your significant other will not have any rights to your assets. Most lawyers recommended that everyone should have a Last Will and Testament, even if assets are minimal. A Will can help minimize family disputes after your death.

What happens to my pets after I die?

While you may believe that family or friends will take in your pets, that doesn't always happen and they may end up in the shelter. It is best if you leave behind instructions as to how your pets should be cared for. You can do this by adding a Pet Addendum to your Will. Some also choose to create a Pet Trust to help cover their pet's expenses.

You should also make a plan for what you want to occur if something happens to you while you are away from home or if you expire in the home. You can keep a note in your wallet instructing first responders to call your designated person to let them know they need to check on and/or take possession of the animals. You should also have a plan in place in case you expire at home, for example a family member or friend, can call for a welfare check if they have not heard from you for few days.