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YOU HAVE TO FUND A LIVING TRUST

In the past, we've talked a lot about the benefits of trusts, which, when properly managed, can help you administrate your property both now and after you are gone. The benefits of a trust don't start accumulating until you move property into the trust, though, so simply working with a lawyer to create a legal trust document isn't enough. You should always talk about how and when you will move assets into your trust when you work with a professional to create it.

A living trust is a type of trust that you can use while you are alive to shelter assets from some tax liabilities or creditors. The protections of a trust aren't 100 percent, so make sure you do understand the actual benefits of the trust before you commit to it. Once you create a living trust, you'll need to move your property into it. How and when you do this depends on the type of property in question and your goals for the trust.

Many people want to put real property -- that which is owned via a title -- into trust. That could include a home, commercial property or land. It could also include automobiles, recreational equipment and some types of financial accounts. In these cases, you would transfer the title of ownership to the trust. That means that you, the individual, are no longer listed as the owner of the item. The trust is now listed as the owner.

While numerous benefits can be had from transferring cash or property into a living trust, you do want to be careful that you think through the action completely. The law makes it possible for you to maintain control over these assets in your lifetime, but you do cede some level of ownership and could endanger your access to assets if you don't work with a good understanding of estate law in New Jersey.

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