Most people already know that in most cases, wills must be probated. The probate process, ever for small and uncomplicated estates, can last months. This means that the beneficiaries must wait for probate to be completed to take ownership of their bequeathed property. There is a will alternative, however, called a revocable trust (also referred to as living trusts), that can do away with the long wait and provide other valuable benefits for estate planning purposes. Read on to learn more about this method for keeping some of your property out of probate's territory.
Just like a will, the revocable trust is a legal means of disposing of property after you pass away. The trust document specifies that certain property be placed "into" the trust while the trust owner (also the owner of the property) is still living. This gives the trust owner full control of the trust and allows the trust to be modified at any time by removing and adding property and beneficiaries whenever desired. Any property that might be addressed by a will can be put into a trust, including real estate, stock, bonds, art, vehicles, jewelry and more.
The trust names a trustee to oversee the trust when the owner dies, much like a will designates an executor. Once the trust owner dies, the trustee will be charges with distributing the assets of the estate named specifically in the trust to the beneficiaries.
The Benefits of a Trust Over a Will
The remarkable perks of a trust become more apparent upon the trust owner's death. The property addressed in the trust can be distributed to the beneficiaries immediately, with no need to file with probate court and wait for the probate process to be complete. Additionally, the contents of the trust are entirely private. In contrast, wills, once filed with the court, are public documents and available for viewing by anyone with an interest in doing so. The benefit of privacy when it comes to the distribution of assets shouldn't be underestimated:
1. The beneficiaries of the trust need never make public their inheritance, which could help them avoid unwanted attention, notoriety and the criminal element.
2. The potential for conflict and discord between the beneficiaries is greatly reduced, since each beneficiary does not necessarily have knowledge of what the other beneficiary is receiving from the trust.
Undoubtedly, a revocable trust should play a major role in your estate planning. Contact an estate attorney to learn more about revocable trusts.