You have likely heard of revocable trusts, (also called living trusts), but have wondered how they fit into the estate planning puzzle. This type of legal instrument allows you to keep some of your property out of probate, and this can benefit your survivors a great deal. While it may not be entirely possible to keep all of your affairs out of probate when you die, a revocable trust presents a convenient alternative to a will and has lots of advantages over a traditional will. Read on to learn more about using a revocable trust for estate planning.
How a trust resembles a will.
Just like a will, a trust is a legal instrument that provides a means of dealing with your estate once you pass away. Any property that you might include in a will can also be addressed in a trust, such as real estate, vehicles, art, bank accounts, jewelry, pets, investment accounts and more. Just like a will, the trust goes further and names the beneficiaries of that property once you pass away.
As the owner of the trust, you can make changes whenever you wish; you are entirely in control of the trust while you are living and not incapacitated. A will has an executor or personal representative charged with overseeing the estate and distributing the assets, and a trust appoints a person who's duties will be similar, called a trustee.
How a trust is better than a will.
A will must be probated after the death, a legal, court-involved process that can take months. Any named beneficiaries must wait for probate to be complete before taking ownership of any property. A trust, on the other hand, does not need to filed anywhere, thus allowing the beneficiaries to take immediate ownership of the property.
A will is considered a public document once it's filed with the probate court, viewable by anyone with an interest to do so. Most people dislike their personal matters to be made public, but a will leaves survivors with no choice. A trust, on the other hand, is entirely private and no part of it ever need be made public. In fact, only the trustee (and the deceased owner of the trust) knows the entire contents of the trust. Each beneficiary is privy only to their own designated inheritance, not to the inheritances of their siblings or others. This feature can sometimes help alleviate jealousy and strife among beneficiaries.
To learn more about the part a revocable trust can play in your estate planning, contact an estate attorney like Jolein A. Harro, P.C. today.