One of the first questions many of our estate planning clients ask is whether they need a trust. The simplest answer is that trusts are a legal tool, and whether they will be useful to you depends on your and your family's estate planning goals.
What is a Revocable Living Trust?
There are many different types of trusts and they can accomplish a wide range of goals. However, when most people think about trusts, the one they have in mind is a Revocable Living Trust.
A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document that allows the grantor (the person who creates the trust) to take personal assets and transfer them to the ownership of the trust. While the trust technically owns the assets, the grantor can continue to use them as he or she normally would.
When a Revocable Living Trust is established, the grantor names a trustee to manage the assets in the trust during the grantor's lifetime. Most grantors name themselves as trustee, giving them complete control over the trust's assets. Typically, a successor trustee is also named to take over management of the trust and distribute trust assets after the grantor passes away.
What are the benefits of a Revocable Living Trust?
One of the primary benefits of a Revocable Living Trust is that it enables assets held in the trust to avoid probate after the grantor's death. This allows trust assets to be distributed to heirs quickly. The costs associated with probating the estate are also avoided. In addition, a Revocable Living Trust protects the privacy of the grantor (and beneficiaries) because the trust's provisions are confidential. A Last Will and Testament, on the other hand, is a matter of public record. Anyone can access information about the decedent's assets, creditors, debts, and more.
Another benefit of Revocable Living Trusts is they not only allow the grantor to control trust assets during life but also after he or she passes away. The grantor can stipulate when, how, and under what circumstances the successor trustee is authorized to distribute trust assets to beneficiaries. This is particularly important if the beneficiaries are not yet mature enough to manage an inheritance on their own, or in situations involving blended families. For example, the grantor could stipulate that children from a first marriage receive assets from the trust, not just the children from a more recent marriage.
Revocable Living Trusts can also be used to protect the grantor and the grantor's family from a stressful and expensive guardianship proceeding if the grantor becomes incapacitated.
Shortell Law LLC's attorneys are available to discuss your estate planning goals, and help determine whether a Revocable Living Trust can help you achieve them. Please complete the following form, and review the list of documentation we may need in order to serve your estate planning needs.
Alaska Estate Planning Attorneys
What to Expect During Our Initial Interview
In some instances, it is necessary for us to review other documents before we can make planning
recommendations. If possible, please bring with you to the initial interview the following documentation:
1. Copies of existing planning documents, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives.
2. Copies of all deeds to real estate owned by you.
3. A list of all bank account and investment accounts numbers.
4. A copy of all LLC or Corporate stock certificates owned by you.
5. Copies of any stock or bond certificates owned by you.
6. Retirement Plan account numbers
7. Insurance policy numbers
8. Pre or Postnuptial Agreement (if applicable).
9. Long-term care policies (if any).
During our initial interview Shortell Law LLC's estate planning attorneys will discuss your estate planning goals, gather information about your family's needs, assets, and long-term goals. All our services are completely confidential.