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Wills & Probate Resources
Avoid Probate Using A Living Trust
No one wants their estate stuck in probate after they have died. Most people's estates end up there, where the courts oversee paying debts and distributing assets. It can be expensive and time-consuming. One way to avoid probate is by using a living trust. Here, we will explain what a living trust is and how you can establish one.
Avoiding Probate, Saving Time & Money
A living trust isn't the same thing as a will. With a simple living trust or inter vivos trust, you put your assets into a trust while you are still alive. You get to manage the trust and can keep control over your own property and other assets.
There are often good reasons to move your assets into a living trust while you are alive, and the living trust can also help avoid probate once you are gone. Through a living trust, your assets can be quickly and easily transferred to your beneficiaries once you have passed away, avoiding probate completely.
For example, married couples with kids can set up living trusts for property they own together and separately. With a living trust, unlike a will, you can create a system for managing your assets if you should become incapacitated. When one spouse dies, the assets go to the other spouse, who is the trustee, if that is the way the living trust has been set up.
Some people may also want to create a living trust as a way to protect their privacy. When an estate goes to probate, it becomes part of the public court records. However, information about living trusts is not part of the public record.
Creating a Living Trust
When you create a living trust, you become the grantor, also called the creator, settler or donor. Once the trust is established, you can transfer assets to a person or an organization like a bank.
You will have to name a trustee when you create a living trust. It can be you or your spouse, but it doesn't have to be. You may want to designate a friend or family member. You can also designate someone from a bank or trust company, but you should be aware of the types of fees those professionals charge.
A living trust is revocable, so you can always change it when you want to. If you don't change it, then your living trust ends when you die. At that time, the trust becomes irrevocable and can't be changed.
Working with a Wills & Trusts Attorney
You don't need to have a wills and trust attorney create your living trust, but it makes sense to talk to a lawyer who focuses his practice on estate planning. There are many issues involved in a living trust, and state laws vary a lot. You want to be sure your trust is set up exactly the way you want it to be. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you avoid complications with wills and probate.
When meeting with wills and trusts lawyers, be sure to ask them about their specific experiences and whether they have worked with many clients in your particular situation. Make sure you are also comfortable with and trust the attorney. Setting up a living trust requires you to think about a lot of tough issues, and you want your lawyer to understand your goals and make sure your assets stay out of probate.