You can place your assets in a trust while you're still alive when you utilize a living trust. According to the American Bar Association, most living trusts are revocable and provide the most flexibility. You can retain control of your assets, sell or purchase property or give it away all in the name of the trust when you are the primary trustee. Your designated trustee has the same rights if you appoint someone to manage your trust.
Create a document that places all your assets in the trust account. If you have an extensive list, you can utilize a separate document and refer to the schedule of assets in your trust documents.
Transfer the titles to all your property to the name of the trust. Ownership must reflect the trust's name on everything you place in the trust, including bank accounts, investments, deeds and titles.
Name a successor trustee in the event of your death or incapacity. Choose someone whom you trust, as intimated by the name of the document. You can design a trust to distribute your assets or profits from the assets in any manner of your choosing. For example, you could set up the trust for grandchildren and direct your successor trustee to provide income as needed to the kids as they age.
Choose trustees to whom you want to leave your assets as co-trustees or successor trustees of the accounts. When you die, the assets automatically become theirs since the titles are in their names already. Transfer of assets is smooth and does not need to be included in any probate proceedings.
Execute a revocable living trust if you want to keep your intentions secret. If you plan to leave your assets to one member of the family to the exclusion of others, you may not want to them to know your plans. A last will and testament becomes public record once it's executed and everyone can find out who you plan to leave your estate to.
In a revocable trust, you always have the right to make changes to the specifics of the document, even if you aren't the primary trustee.
Expect to pay additional attorney fees when you execute a living trust. There is an enormous amount of paperwork and filing involved in the process as well as title transfers and document preparation. Setting up a living revocable trust is more expensive than simply executing a will that you may do without the assistance of an estate planning attorney.
- American Bar Association: Living Trusts
- Burroughs Collins & Newcomb, PLC; Revocable Living Trust; Keith Burroughs
- American Bar Association. "What Is a Revocable Living Trust?" Accessed Feb. 7, 2020.
- Klenk Law. "Revocable Living Trusts: Everything You Need to Know." Accessed Feb. 7, 2020.
- Fiduciary Trust Company International. "The Benefits and Shortcomings of Revocable Trusts." Accessed Feb. 7, 2020.
- Fidelity Investments. "What Is a Trust?" Accessed Feb. 7, 2020.
- Klenk Law. "Irrevocable Trusts: Everything You Need to Know." Accessed Feb. 7, 2020.
- Kulas Law Group. "Can I Be the Trustee of My Own Revocable Living Trust?" Accessed Feb. 7, 2020.
- Fidelity Investments. "Why Naming the Right Trustee is Critical." Accessed Feb. 7, 2020.
- In a revocable trust, you always have the right to make changes to the specifics of the document, even if you aren't the primary trustee.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."