An Alternative To A Will: What To Know About Revocable Trusts


When it comes to estate planning, the last will and testament has always served as the centerpiece in any plan to provide guidance for disposing of a loved one's property. Lately, however, an alternative to the will has become increasingly popular: the revocable trust. Also known as a living trust, this method of dealing with property after death can be an excellent supplement to the traditional will. Read on to learn more about how a trust can play a valuable part in your estate planning needs.

What Goes Into a Trust?

Any property that can be bequeathed in a will may also be handled with a trust, including real estate, bank account contents, art, vehicles, jewelry, etc. The trust can be set up to name beneficiaries and the property will be automatically transferred to that named beneficiary immediately after the trust owner's death, with no need to wait for probate to complete.

Who is in Charge of the Trust?

The owner of the property contained in the trust is the owner of trust, and that ownership continues until death. As owner, you would have complete control over the trust while living, which means you can add or remove property, change beneficiaries and even cancel the trust entirely. Upon the owner's death or incapacity, the administration of the trust is handed over to the appointed trustee, who fills a similar role as that of an executor, or personal representative. Additionally, the trustee is responsible for paying the bills of the estate, filing tax returns and distributing assets.

Benefits of a Trust Over a Will

Once the trust's owner passes away, the benefits of the trust over a will become more pronounced. There is no need to file a trust instrument with probate court, as the will must be filed. Moreover, the contents of the trust is completely private, even to the beneficiaries. Only the trustee (and perhaps the estate attorney) know the full contents of the trust, and its implications. In other words, beneficiaries may not necessarily know what other beneficiaries received. This important feature could be quite valuable for those who wish to reduce animosity between beneficiaries who may feel slighted if the full contents were known.

It must be pointed out that a trust is not a one-stop solution for estate planning, but does serve as an expeditious method of disposing of property after death both privately and quickly. Contact an estate attorney for more information about how a trust could complement your estate planning needs.

To learn more, contact a probate attorney's firm like Moore, O'Connell & Refling PC


23 March 2016

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