Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
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A living trust is usually set up for the purpose of avoiding probate. But, it's up to you what assets to put into the trust and which assets to keep out of the trust. There is no legal requirement that you put all your assets into the trust; you can transfer only property should you choose. But, if you want to avoid probate, you will want to transfer any assets that would otherwise require probate into the trust. Certain assets pass outside probate and thus would not need to be put into the living trust to avoid probate. These include the following: i) joint brokerage and bank accounts which vest automatically in the surviving owner upon the death of one owner; ii) real property held as joint tenants or tenants by the entirety, which also vest automatically in the surviving owner upon the death of one owner; and iii) assets with designated beneficiaries other than the estate such as life insurance and retirement accounts. If your savings accounts have a designated beneficiary or a "Paid on Death" designation, they would fall within these type assets and would not need to be put into the trust to avoid probate.
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