Friday, April 15, 2011

Making Your Own Living Trust (10th Ed.) by Denis Clifford

Make Your Own Living Trust
Make Your Own Living Trust by Denis Clifford

The blurb:
Unlike a will, a living trust lets you bypass probate court which saves your family money, delay, and hassle.  Whether you are single or part of a couple, Make Your Own Living Trust can help you make a living trust that's valid in your state. This new edition has been updated to reflect 2010 federal tax law changes.

Use this book to:
  • decide whether a living trust is right for your family
  • create a probate-avoiding trust
  • create an estate-tax-saving AB trust if needed
  • name beneficiaries to inherit your property
  • appoint someone to manage trust property inherited by children
  • keep control over trust property while you live
  • appoint someone to manage trust property if you become incapacitated
  • transfer all types of assets to your trust, including real estate, stocks jewelry, art or business assets
  • update your estate plan to reflect changed financial realities

Make Your Own Living Trust by Atty. Denis Clifford gives a careful introduction to living trusts, appropriate to most audiences.

I ordered the book for my own purposes and for a better understanding of living trusts as an attorney interested in branching into an estate planning practice. As a beginner in this area, I found the book helpful as an introduction.

Here are a few of things that the book covers:
  • the advantages of establishing a living trust, such as avoiding or simplifying probate. The discussion on the process of probate, it's cost and estimated time frame;
  • the record keeping requirements for a living trust;
  • which state's law governs your living trust (when you own property or work in more than 1 state or overseas;
  • transfer taxes involved when transferring property to a living trust;
  • the potential difficulty refinancing property that has been transferred to a living trust, and possible ways to solve this problem;
  • that a living trust doesn't establish a cutoff for creditors' claims as differentiated from when property goes through probate;
  • that it is recommended to separately prepare a will, a durable power of attorney, a health care proxy aside from a living trust;
  • that a basic living trust will not necessarily reduce federal estate taxes - you'll need to consult an attorney and tax expert;
  • the impact of the new federal estate tax law on AB trusts during 2011 and 2012;
  • property that shouldn't be included in a living trust; and
  • property you should consider including in a living trust;

The book helps you prepare your papers, plans, and thoughts beforehand. The forms in the book don't include a "survivorship period" on gifts made to primary or alternate beneficiaries. The book mentions other recommended steps and ways to prepare a comprehensive estate plan. There are "red flags" in the book that point out when it is advisable to seek professional advice. There is a chapter that goes over how to select advisers, how to work with an expert, and how to find helpful information. Overall, the book is a helpful introduction to living trusts and may be sufficient for most users.

Note: the book shouldn't be used by Louisiana residents because of their legal system which is based on the Napoleonic Code, a civil law system.

ISBN-10: 9781413313161 - Paperback $ 39.99
Publisher: NOLO; 10 edition (March 17, 2011), 360 pages.
Review copy provided through the Amazon Vine Program.

About the Author:
Denis Clifford is a practicing estate planning attorney who graduated from Columbia Law School, where he was an editor of the Law Review.  He is the author of many Nolo titles, including Quick & Legal Will Book and Plan Your Estate, and is a co-author of A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples.  He has been interviewed by such major media as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Money Magazine. 


  1. Thanks a lot for sharing that review. I think that book is really good. I should probably read it sometime.

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  2. From reading your review, this sounds like an interesting book. I can't wait to grab a copy. Thanks for sharing.


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  3. Thanks for sharing.I was looking forward to it.I will share it with my friends.
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