What is considered an "asset" when setting up a trust account?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I need to know what are considered "assets" to be included in a trust account for my parents.

Expert Answer

Liza Hanks is the founder and owner of FamilyWorks Estate Planning, a law firm with offices in Campbell and Los Altos, California, and the author of The Busy Family's Guide to Estate Planning (Nolo, 2007).

Assuming you mean a living trust, which is a way to avoid probate, your parents should transfer the ownership of their home, any large bank accounts and nonretirement investment accounts into the trust, as well as their personal property, such as home furnishings and jewelry.

They won't have to transfer their retirement assets, such as 401(k)s or IRAs, or their life insurance policies, because these assets don't pass through probate anyway.

They'll probably need a title company or an attorney to help them record a deed transferring their house into the trust, but they should be able to request the right forms from financial institutions to transfer those accounts themselves. Banks usually require people to bring their trust to the bank and fill out paperwork there.

Your parents should also include a list of these trust assets as a schedule to their trust; this is often called a Schedule of Assets.