When you understand all of the facts you may decide that you would prefer a living trust to a last will. A revocable living trust will facilitate an efficient transfer of assets to your heirs outside of probate.
Probate is a legal process that provides certain protections, but it can be time-consuming and costly.
The public can access probate records to find out what went on during the process, and this loss of privacy is another concern for many people. The utilization of a living trust as an alternative to a last will would ensure privacy.
Some people assume that trusts are only for people who are extremely wealthy. This is not the case when it comes to revocable living trusts. These trusts are useful for people of relatively ordinary means.
In fact, this type of trust would not be the right choice for wealthy individuals who are concerned about asset protection and estate tax exposure. Because the trust is revocable, assets conveyed into it would be looked upon as part of your taxable estate by the IRS. They would also be fair game for creditors and claimants seeking redress.
Living Trusts for Married Couples
The anatomy of a trust involves a grantor; this is the person who creates the trust. There is also a trustee who administers the trust, and a beneficiary who receives monetary distributions out of the trust.
With a revocable living trust the grantor will typically serve as both the trustee and the beneficiary while he or she is still alive. This ongoing control is part of the appeal of these trusts. You would name successors to assume these roles after you die.
If you are married, you and your spouse could create a joint living trust. Exactly what would happen after the death of one spouse would depend on the circumstances.
Assuming the surviving spouse was the inheritor of all of the property contained within the trust, he or she would simply continue on as the sole trustee and beneficiary.
This can be a streamlined choice if you want to leave everything in the hands of your spouse after you pass away.
It is possible to convey personal property into the joint trust, and you can name different beneficiaries. However, a joint living trust may not be the best option for you if you want to arrange for the future transfer of personally held property to people other than your spouse.
Custom Crafted Estate Plan
When you are planning your estate you should discuss your unique situation in detail with a licensed estate planning attorney. Your attorney will gain an understanding of your situation, become aware of your objectives, and make the appropriate recommendations. You can then make fully informed decisions.