When does it make sense to do a Living Trust?

Dear Liza: We are a young family with significant debt  and very little in tangible assets (we completely own just one car — we rent our house).  However, my wife and I have plans of significantly decreasing debt and increasing assets/wealth in the future.  Is it worth the time/costs to create a Living Trust now?  Or should we wait until we actually have assets?  Does it matter?

Because you have a young child, what you really need right now is a Will, naming guardians for your kids and putting a plan in place to manage assets for those kids until they grow up. If you don’t own a house right now, or more than 100K in the bank, I’d say, wait on the trust. The purpose of a trust is to transfer what you’ve got to your kids efficiently and inexpensively. But if you’ve really got nothing to transfer, the trust doesn’t buy you much at the moment. You could certainly create a living trust now, in anticipation of your future wealth, but if there’s nothing to fund that trust with at the moment, I’d say hold off. But do get that Will done. :)