Living Trust

Discover the benefits of a living trust

A living trust is a legal and financial maneuver designed to help beneficiaries of a will avoid probate and estate taxes or to establish long-term management of property and assets. In the United States, there are two types of living trusts: revocable living trusts and irrevocable living trusts.

With a revocable living trust, the individual establishing the trust (called the "grantor") can annul the terms of the trust at any time. The grantor may choose to do this if he or she develops other plans for the assets held in trust or if he or she no longer wishes for the named beneficiaries to receive the assets held in trust.

Once enacted, an irrevocable living trust cannot be canceled. Because of this restriction, the grantor generally incurs fewer costs when establishing an irrevocable living trust than are encountered with their revocable counterparts.

Advantages of a Living Trust

The advantages of a living trust are many:

  • Heirs to the trust automatically avoid probate court and all the taxes, expenses and legalities involved with it.
  • Property is automatically dispersed and transferred to beneficiaries.
  • Income generated by the property held in trust continues uninterrupted.
  • The last wishes of the deceased remain private and confidential.
  • Delays in settling the estate are completely eradicated.
  • Living trusts and wills can protect up to US$1.5 million per individual and up to US$3 million per couple.

How to Set Up a Living Trust

Assuming you've done all your research and understand the advantages a living trust offers over a regular trust, consider your family situation. It can be complicated if you have children from previous marriages and you want to include them in your living trust arrangement. Remember that while actual ownership of your property passes to whomever you name in your will, immediate control of that property passes only to a single beneficiary named in your living trust.

You can use living trust software to manage the particulars of the disbursement of your property to the various heirs you name in your will. Once you've got all the details nailed down and you're ready to proceed, contact an estate attorney to fill out and file a living trust form.

Your estate attorney has the expertise and experience to guide you through the decision-making process should you need assistance. The legalities involved with living trusts can be very complicated, so it is highly recommended that you not undertake the establishment of a living trust by yourself.

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