Before we address the specific subject we are going to focus on in this post, we will provide some general background information about the benefits of living trusts.
You Retain Control
A lot of people assume that you surrender personal control of assets that you convey into any type of trust. The whole idea is to allow a trustee to manage the assets, right?
This is true when it comes to irrevocable trusts, and people use these trusts because they want to surrender incidents of ownership for certain reasons. These trusts are used for estate tax efficiency, and people use irrevocable trusts for Medicaid eligibility purposes.
On the other hand, a living trust is a revocable trust, and that description is self-explanatory. You retain the right of revocation, and you can act as the trustee while you are alive and well.
Technically, the trust is the owner of the assets, but you control the trust. Nothing changes with regard to your access to the assets that you sign over to the trust.
The sole purpose is to facilitate smooth and efficient asset transfers after you are gone. There are other underlying reasons why people use irrevocable trusts.
Living Trust Benefits
One major benefit that you gain when you use a living trust is the avoidance of probate. When assets are transferred through the terms of a will, the heirs have to wait out this process before they can receive their inheritances. It will typically take somewhere between eight and 18 months.
Another positive is the ability to include spendthrift protections in the living trust. It would have a spendthrift provision, and it would become irrevocable after you pass away. The beneficiary would not be able to access the principal, and the creditors of the beneficiary would “step into their shoes.
They would not be able to reach the principal either, but they would be able to go after assets after they have been distributed. Their access could be limited if the trustee is instructed to provide limited monthly distributions.
About 10 percent of all seniors have Alzheimer’s disease, and the number is 32 percent for people that are 85 years of age and older. This is the leading cause of cognitive impairment, but there are others. To account for possible incapacity, you can name a disability trustee when you establish the trust.
Now we can get to the primary point of this post. If you have established a living trust, you may still have some property in your personal possession at the time of your passing.
The property would become probate property if you do nothing, so you should add a pour-over will when you are establishing your estate plan. This document would allow these assets to “pour over” into the trust after you are gone. It should be noted that the probate court would still be involved, but the pour-over will would simplify the process.
If you are the parent of a dependent child or children, your estate plan should designate a guardian that would care for the children if it ever becomes necessary. You can’t designate a guardian in a living trust, so you would add a will to your estate plan to serve this purpose.
Attend a Free Seminar
We are committed to providing educational opportunities to members of our community. To this end, we conduct free seminars on an ongoing basis, and there are a number of them on the schedule right now.
You can come away with a great deal of important information if you join us for one of these sessions, so we urge you to attend the seminar that fits into your schedule.
To see the dates, visit our seminar page and follow simple instructions to register for the session that works for you.
Need Help Now?
We are here to help if you have already learned enough to know that it is time for you to put an estate plan in place. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 860-548-1000.