Revocable Living Trust
A Revocable Living Trust is the main tool which our attorneys use to plan for the distribution of assets when someone passes away. It is an amendable contract signed during life while the Trustmaker has capacity. This tool allows our client’s to avoid the need for probate court, to maintain privacy, and to ensure that their assets pass to their loved ones without undue delay. As the name states, this type of trust is revocable, and is easily amendable. During life, our clients can add assets to the trust, sell assets out of the trust, or otherwise make changes as they see fit. Our clients can make simple amendments by exercising a quick document. Extensive changes sometimes require that we do a restatement of a trust, where we keep the name of the trust and rewrite the rest to match current law and the desired changes.
With a Revocable Living Trust, our clients are in charge of the trust assets during life, and they designate who will be Successor trustee after they pass away. We recommend listing at two Successor Trustees in case the first choice is unavailable for any reason. Once the Trustmaker passes away, the Successor Trustee is responsible for evaluating and gathering trust assets, paying expenses, and then distributing the assets to the listed Beneficiaries. Further, the successor Trustee can take control of trust assets during the Trustmaker’s life, if the Trustmaker faces a time of incapacity where they are not able to manage their own assets.
In order to successfully avoid probate, the Revocable Living Trust must be “funded”, meaning that we must reassign our assets to be owned by the trust. If we fail to do this, we will not avoid probate.
While avoiding probate court is a main advantage of any Revocable Living Trust, there are several other ancillary benefits. The first is that a trust will help to keep your assets and who inherits them private. Without it, your assets and heirs will become part of the court record in a probate matter. Second, a Revocable living trust allows for several different types of distributions. You may choose to have the assets simply distributed directly to your heirs after expenses are paid. Or you may want to have your Successor Trustee hold the assets until your beneficiaries reach a certain age, and then allow the assets to be distributed. Further, you may decide to instruct your Successor Trustee to create Beneficiary Asset Protection Trusts upon your death. These types of Dynasty Trusts provide your Beneficiaries with enhanced protection from liabilities, creditors, lawsuits, and divorce. A third major benefit is in the peace of mind that we provide our clients when they know they have a well-designed estate plan.
A Revocable Living Trust is just one aspect of a complete Estate Plan. Utilizing this trust, along with powers of attorney and other ancillary documents can create a bullet-proof estate plan to ensure that you and your heirs are protected both during life, and after you pass away.