A revocable living trust is a special legal arrangement that is used to manage your assets during your lifetime and beyond. A revocable trust may be created in addition to a last will and testament to protect the financial interests of your beneficiaries. In Missouri, living trusts are covered under Chapter 456 of the state legislative code. Residents should understand the guidelines for creating a revocable living trust and what benefits they may offer.
Creating a Trust
To establish a trust in Missouri, you must be an adult and of sound mind. You must create the trust on paper by drafting a trust agreement, also known as a declaration or indenture of trust. A qualified estate-planning attorney can help you with the paperwork. As the property owner, you are referred to as the settlor in the trust agreement. Your primary responsibility is to name your beneficiaries and appoint a trustee. State law permits you to serve as your own trustee if a successor trustee is also named. The trust document must be signed by both you and the trustee.
Funding the Trust
Once you've created a trust on paper, you must fund it. To fund the trust, you must transfer titles or deeds to property and assets to the control of the trustee. The types of assets you may transfer to the trust include any real estate you own in Missouri or in other states, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, jewelry, artwork, automobiles, heirlooms and life insurance policies. State law permits you to transfer certain types of retirement plans to a revocable living trust, but you should consult an estate-planning attorney to determine whether this is a favorable option. You may continue to add assets to the trust as you acquire them.
Revision and Revocation
State law permits you to revise or revoke your living trust at any time. If you and your spouse created the living trust jointly and the trust includes community property, one spouse may revoke it at any time without the consent of the other, but both spouses must consent to any revisions. If a joint trust does not hold community property, either spouse may revoke or revise the trust with regard to his individual assets. Once the trust is revoked, the trustee must transfer assets contained in the trust back to the settlor.
Under the Missouri trust code, your creditors may pursue claims against property held in a trust during your lifetime. Upon your death, the trustee must publish a notice in your local newspaper for four consecutive weeks in order to allow creditors to bring claims against your estate. Under state law, creditors have six months from the initial notice date to present claims to the trustee. Failure to submit a claim before the expiration date bars creditors from pursuing any claim at a later date.
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