An estate plan consists of several parts and considerations, including a living trust. A living trust is a legal arrangement set up during a person’s lifetime that places their assets into a trust overseen by a trustee. The living trust also determines how the trustor’s assets will be distributed once they pass or become incapacitated. Some factors that may cause someone to create a trust range from tax benefits and avoiding probate to caring for family members with special needs. See how working with an estate planning attorney to create a living trust will help your family.
Avoiding probate is the most common reason for seeking out a living trust. Probate is the courts’ process of proving a will is accepted as a valid document that can be used to effectively distribute assets. There are several reasons in which you would want to avoid probate. The first is that probate can be a costly way to transfer your assets upon death. There are multiple parties that may need to be paid out during a probate proceeding, including the court, which add up quickly.
Probate is also a very lengthy process. It can take six to nine months (sometimes longer) to fully go through probate. There are many factors, documents, and people involved in the probate process, so it’s easy for complications to arise. Problems such as a contested will or an inability to find clear records of all of the deceased's assets and debts can extend this timeline.
Lastly, your probate proceedings will be publicly recorded for the court, meaning your case will become public knowledge and will be available to anyone. This significantly limits you and your family’s privacy which is not ideal during a family member's death.
A living trust provides tax savings to those estates that are subject to estate or gift taxes. There are many types of trusts to choose from, but the most common are irrevocable trusts and revocable trusts. A revocable living trust allows you to make amendments and changes to the documents as necessary, even during the trustor’s life. An irrevocable trust cannot be amended after the document has been signed, but it does offer significant transfer tax benefits that are not subject to the typical gift tax requirements. When you work with us, we'll make sure to align the type of trust with your family's tax-saving needs and other goals.
When it comes to your trust, it’s important for you to understand that a trust only controls assets that are put, or funded, into the trust. Living trusts need to be continually updated to accommodate changes such as marriage, childbirth, home purchases, and tax laws that could affect the trust. With a living trust, the trustor is able to amend the document to reflect their wishes. Because of this, it’s crucial that you work closely with your estate planning attorney to make sure your assets are properly aligned with your trust. This will not only help you get organized, but it will also make things easier for your heirs when you pass away.
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