A living trust is the best way for a young person, or almost anyone else, to protect assets for heirs. You normally name yourself as the trustee for a living trust, so you retain complete control over bank accounts, mortgages or other assets. You can change them freely during your lifetime. Bank accounts may be listed individually in the agreement or in a separate attachment. Upon death, the trust authority shifts to a successor trustee, who is empowered to control assets to conform to the trust agreement.
Read the trust agreement to make sure there are no restrictions on recovering bank accounts or other assets, but a trustee normally has complete control. Some trust agreements list them specifically in the trust document, others attach a separate listing as part of the agreement. Have account identification, which should be in the trust name, and numbers.
Prepare an amendment or modification for the trust agreement if it is your living trust and you are the trustee. Present the trust agreement listing you as trustee and your personal identification to the bank if you are a successor trustee after death. Include the appropriate account numbers or ask the bank to search its records in the name of the trust if you are unsure what accounts are available.
Instruct the bank on the disposition of recovered accounts. Remove funds to disburse them if you are a successor trustee; you can shift them to another account or distribute them as you wish if you are a living trustee. Use recovered accounts to make immediate gifts to heirs if you are the living trustee and want to distribute money while you're alive.
- Living trusts are created under state laws, so have your lawyer check specifically for any restrictions.
- Most states have "unclaimed fund" reports to identify money in bank accounts and other funds that for some reason have not been claimed by owners. Check those to locate any accounts that might have been misplaced.
Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.