If you have already established a living trust to avoid probate, congratulations! This post is about the short list of things you should do after you sign your living trust.
Property Insurance — Contact your insurance agent to get a Trust Endorsement added to your insurance coverage for your home, any other real estate you own, and (if applicable) any insured business property you own. A Trust Endorsement is an addition to your insurance policy, which makes your trust, and you as trustee(s) of your trust, a named insured on the policy. To the best of my knowledge, most insurance carriers provide a Trust Endorsement at no additional charge.
Financial Accounts — You will need to update your “pay on death” (“POD”) or “transfer on death” (“TOD”) beneficiary designations with the institutions that hold your money. For bank accounts and non-retirement investment accounts, you can name your trust as the primary beneficiary, as this will give your successor trustee immediate access to funds to pay your final expenses and ongoing bills during the trust administration.
For retirement and other tax-driven accounts, seek the advice of a tax professional like a CPA before you update your pay on death provisions, because there can be different tax outcomes for your loved ones depending on the particular POD/TOD designations — the Congress tinkers with inherited retirement account tax rules somewhat frequently.