ESTATE DIVISION & DISTRIBUTION
Transfers are required
For most people, ensuring that their assets are distributed how they want and to whom they want is what drives them to see their estate planner in the first place. Your Trust is the main document that describes and gives instruction for the distribution of assets; however, three other documents in your estate plan deserve your attention on the subject of distribution as well.
Your Will is an important document that deals with distribution of assets. If you have a Trust, it is likely that all of your assets are owned by that Trust, and your Will is probably a short document stating simply that any assets not included in your Trust should be put into your Trust and distributed accordingly. However, if you created your Will before you decided to create your Trust, you could have conflicting documents and should review your Will that mentions the existence of your Trust.
Two other important documents pertaining to distribution are the Assignment of Personal Property and the Personal Property Memorandum. The Assignment of Personal Property is a document that transfers all of your smaller, tangible property (jewelry, antiques, artwork, furniture, etc.) into the name of your trust, thus avoiding probate. This document is one that should be revisited and re-signed every 2-5 years to ensure that all assets (even your most recent purchases) are included.
The Personal Property Memorandum is the document in which you give specific property to particular people — for example, your wedding ring to your granddaughter, or your sports memorabilia collection to your grandson. This is a very simple document, and can even be handwritten. It should be kept with your trust, and can even be referred to in your trust, if possible.