Living Trusts

The key to effective estate planning

Why Create A Living Trust

For most people, the first step in estate planning is to create a will, but there are more comprehensive options. A revocable living trust can provide you with many benefits that are not available with a will.

A will communicates how you would like your assets to be distributed upon death and who you want to administer your estate.

A revocable living trust (sometimes called an inter-vivos trust) is similar in that it does all this. However, it also allows you to retain control of your estate before and after your death.

Key benefits of A Living Trust

Avoid Probate

Avoid Legal Fees and Delay

Probate proceedings can take up to a year or longer. Until the courts decide on the distribution of the property, the assets are typically "frozen". It can easily cost from 3% to 7% or more of the total estate value.

Plan for disability

Ability to plan for disability

If a court finds that a person cannot make any or all of their important life decisions, that person can be considered incapacitated. With a will, the court would appoint a conservator to take care of finances. With a living trust, the choosen successor takes charge.

Greater Privacy

Greater Privacy

In addition to the expense, probate is public. All information about a deceased person's assets, liabilities, beneficiaries, and personal representatives are a matter of public record. Anyone can access your probate court file for their benefit.

There are some important benefits of setting up a revocable living trust as opposed to a will, namely:

  • No probate: Unlike a Will (for assets over $75,000), assets included in a revocable living trust are not subject to probate. This avoids possible delays of months or even years, as well as expensive executor and legal fees. A successor (named in the living trust document) is able to administer your estate to transition your assets.
  • Ability to plan for  disability: If you become unable to effectively look after your estate or become incapacitated due to mental disability your named successor can manage your financial affairs without the expense and delays associated with further legal work. A Will on its own won’t allow this and your loved ones would have to ask the court to appoint a conservator to manage your financial affairs.
  • Greater privacy: If privacy is important to you or your beneficiaries, a revocable living trust is more secure than a Will as it remains a private document. A Will, on the other hand, will be a matter of public record because it must be filed with the probate court.

One more Question

Why Revocable Vs. An Irrevocable trust?

A revocable trust and living trust describe the same thing: a trust in which the terms can be changed at any time. An irrevocable trust is a trust that cannot be modified after it is created without the consent of the beneficiaries.

An irrevocable trust is available as an alternative estate planning vehicle. The main differences between a revocable and irrevocable trust are:

  • Lack of flexibility in an irrevocable trust – once it is set up, it is more difficult to change. Assets cannot generally be taken back.
  • If you are sued, a revocable trust offers no protection from creditors: the assets in the trust are considered to be owned by you. An irrevocable trust on the other hand can protect your assets from creditors.
  • An irrevocable trust removes the value of the property from the estate, so estate taxes apply if your net worth is larger than the applicable estate tax exemption.

These differences are one of the areas where our expert estate attorneys can provide guidance. Hiring a lawyer experienced in setting up living trusts and other aspects of your estate plan will help you choose the best personal options.

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