It’s never too early to begin planning for the future – especially when it involves your hard-earned and carefully managed assets. So when it comes to estate planning, it’s important to know that revocable trust agreements offer significant advantages over the traditional last will and testament.
In certain respects, they’re similar. A revocable trust, or living trust, and a will both provide directions for how your property should be distributed at the time of your death. Both can also be amended at any time during your lifetime.
But one significant difference is that a revocable trust does not require probate. Probate is a court-supervised legal process that’s required when someone dies and leaves a will – and even when one fails to leave a will.
The process is public record. Anyone can read the proceedings and determine what you owned, how much you left and to whom you left it. A revocable trust would shield your financial affairs from prying eyes.
Another advantage is that a revocable trust allows for a predetermined “successor trustee” to act on your behalf should you become mentally unable in your elder years to conduct your own affairs. A last will and testament cannot provide for this. Instead, your loved ones would need to pursue a court order allowing for the appointment an estate guardian. That can be expensive, inconvenient and invite acrimony among family members.
A revocable trust also allows you to actively manage your estate plan. Assets can be moved in or out as you see fit, and future access to your property can be curtailed or controlled to your liking. A will only allows for your property to be passed on. For example, if you have minor grandchildren, a living trust can specify when and how a child receives assets held in trust. Grandchildren with special needs can have supervised access to their inheritance.
A revocable trust also allows for future tax planning provisions. This is an enormous advantage as estate taxes and regulations are frequently in flux.
Finally, you don’t have to be a millionaire gain these advantages. A revocable trust is an option for any size estate. It really comes down to your personal concerns and what’s best for you and family. We work with families just like yours on issues just like this. Do not wait to contact our office to start planning!