You are free to define the scope of the estate-planning services you offer to your client. You can choose the level of involvement in funding the trust that you desire - from simply directing the client to contact us for assistance, to acting as notary for funding documents included in the binder, to following up to ensure the formal transfer occurs.
As you determine what level of funding assistance to provide keep in mind the following compliance guidelines:
- Do not notarize any funding document that is not complete - make sure all applicable blanks are completed prior to notarization.
- Do not notarize any funding document prior to the client's actual signature. Notarization is the legal documentation that the client signed the paperwork and must occur simultaneously with signature.
(Note: It is standard practice to record simultaneously irrespective of the benefits that may be derived from delayed recording. The benefits to delaying the recording - maintain higher level of privacy, avoid potential hassle with mortgage company, do not jeopardize any existing homestead protection. Downside to delaying the recording - loose or misplace the deed, appearance that the property was inadvertently left out of the trust opens door for accusations that you did "sloppy" or unprofessional work. Because simultaneous recording is the accepted standard you have less liability.)
- Do not take completed deeds to County Recorder on behalf of client. Once you take possession of original documents you become legally liable for any delays undue that may occur. Provide a stamped, pre-addressed envelope, submission forms from county (i.e., PCOR form if property is located in California ), etc - but client should retain responsibility for the deed's actual submission.
- Do not argue with financial institutions that refuse to change title per your client's instructions. Contact us immediately if your client experiences resistance to any request to change title. It is a matter that the attorney will have to address directly with the institution's legal counsel.
- Do not attempt to make your client's living trust the owner of their IRA accounts. By law IRA accounts are already "in trust" managed by a third-party trustee (i.e., the bank or Mutual Fund Company, etc). Since your client has total control over their living trust, naming their living trust as owner would essentially be a distribution and make entire balance of the IRA subject to immediate income taxation. The client's trust will be identified as a beneficiary designation not as an owner. If you have any questions on how to integrate IRA accounts into the trust, contact us.