Revocable Living Trusts have become the basic building block of estate plans for people of all ages, personal backgrounds, and financial situations. But for some, a Revocable Living Trust may not be necessary to achieve their estate planning goals or may even be detrimental to achieving those goals.
What Are the Advantages of a Revocable Living Trust Over a Will?
Revocable Living Trusts have become popular because when compared with a Last Will and Testament, a Revocable Living Trust offers the following advantages:
1. A Revocable Living Trust protects your privacy by keeping your final wishes a private family matter, since only your beneficiaries and Trustees are entitled to read the trust agreement after your death. On the other hand, a Last Will and Testament that is filed with the probate court becomes a public court record which is available for the whole world to read.
2. A Revocable Living Trust provides instructions for your care and the management of your property if you become mentally incapacitated. Since a Last Will and Testament only goes into effect after you die, it cannot be used for incapacity planning.
3. If you fund all of your assets into a Revocable Living Trust prior to your death, then those assets will avoid probate. On the other hand, property that passes under the terms of a Last Will and Testament usually has to be probated. A probate is usually more expensive then a trust administration at your death.
Why Shouldn’t You Use a Revocable Living Trust?
Although Revocable Living Trusts offer privacy protection, incapacity planning, and probate avoidance, they are not for everyone.
For example, if your main concern is avoiding probate of your assets after you die, then you may be able to accomplish this goal without the use a Revocable Living Trust by using joint ownership, life estates, and payable on death or transfer on death accounts and beneficiary deeds. However, those strategies aren’t a perfect fit for everyone.
In addition, if you are concerned about protecting your assets in case you need nursing home care, then an Irrevocable Living Trust, instead of a Revocable Living Trust, may be the best option for preserving your estate for the benefit of your family. The rules governing Irrevocable Living Trusts can be very complex, and you should only create an Irrevocable Living Trust after a thorough discussion with a qualified trust attorney.
Do You Still Need a Revocable Living Trust?
While some estate planning attorneys advise their clients against using a Revocable Living Trust under any circumstance, others advise their clients to use one under every circumstance. Either approach fails to take into consideration the fact that Revocable Living Trusts are definitely not ‘one size fits all.’ Instead, your family and financial situations must be carefully evaluated on an individual basis and the advantages and disadvantages of using a Revocable Living Trust must be weighed against your personal concerns and estate planning goals. In addition, these factors must be re-evaluated every few years since your family and financial situations, concerns, and goals will change over time.
If you have a Revocable Living Trust and it has been a few years since it has been reviewed, then we can help you determine if a Revocable Living Trust is still the right choice for you and your family.