Why We Chose To Set Up a Living Trust In Our 30's
Updated: May 10, 2018
What prompts young people in their early 20’s or 30’s to think about end of life planning? For us, there were a couple of things that made us really focus on what was important.
The first was when we were just in our early 20’s. My husband was in a motorcycle wreck and sustained a very serious injury. He was only 25 and I was 22 at the time; we hadn’t discussed the topic of what we would want to happen if we couldn’t make our own decisions and there we were facing it much younger than we could have anticipated.
The other life-altering event was when both of his parents were dying in a short period of time. They had been divorced and therefore had separate homes, finances, and wishes. They were both fairly young and thankfully, his mother had time before she passed to make arrangements. The work she put into her plan made a very difficult situation easier for the family. We knew her wishes and her directives were clearly defined by the time she passed. There was still a lot of work to do on her estate but she had removed all of the guesswork which made things much easier.
His father, on the other hand, had a will and a new wife. His slow decline with Alzheimer’s was difficult. He didn’t address what his wishes were with regard to this situation and without specific directions, he was placed in a facility which his son knew he wouldn’t want. The lack of direction caused family strife up until he passed and afterward while the affairs were all being settled.
The point is that people typically don’t come with expiration dates. Situations arise, accidents happen and questions come up- you have to be prepared. You have to have the hard conversations when you have time to really consider what you want for you and your family members. At any age, trying to decipher what someone else would or wouldn’t want in the event they were incapacitated is difficult. Combine that pressure with the immediate decision making emotional pressures and you’re heading down a really perilous path.
Thankfully, in our situation, my husband survived. We had the conversations on what our wishes would be and what we both wanted. We got wills drawn up with medical directives that put in writing what our decisions and wishes were.
After his parents passed, we took it a step further. We learned the hard way that just because you write out a will doesn’t mean things go smoothly. His will still meant we had to go through Probate. Did you know that here in Colorado if you own real estate when you die, your family will go through probate? The Will only acts as a guide for the court during the probate process.
We did some research and decided that we wanted to really spell out our wishes and make things as simple as possible. We contacted an estate lawyer to educate us about our options.
We ended up doing a Revocable Living Trust with Hammond Law Group. It was a lot of work and required a number of in-depth conversations. There were arguments of course! It’s hard to talk about life support, how long life-saving measures need to be in place; Who acts as executor or how assets are divided if only one of us dies. It’s these hard questions that we had to answer so that our family didn’t have to. Once we came up with the solutions, we had to do all the paperwork to actually complete the trust.
I can only describe that process as creating a box that we put all of our important things into. All our titles, deeds, life insurance policies no longer have names as beneficiaries everything is listed as the trust. That way if either of us becomes incapacitated or dies the Living Trust lets the Co-Trustee wrap things up, pay bills, and distribute assets, without probate. That reduces the stress on our family while saving time and money.
I have to admit, setting up the trust did cost us money but we believe that our family would spend more if they had to go to court to get guardianship or had to go through the expense of probate. There are many options for arranging your will and setting up your end of life plan. This is what worked best for us - but I would absolutely recommend that no matter what stage you're at in life, you take the time to think these things through and even contact a lawyer to help you decide the right path for you and your family.
*If you would like clarification on some if the terms you read about in this article click here.