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Living Trusts for Everyone: Why a Will Is Not the Way to Avoid Probate, Protect Heirs, and Settle Estates

Living Trusts for Everyone: Why a Will Is Not the Way to Avoid Probate, Protect Heirs, and Settle Estates - Ronald Farrington Sharp Wills have to be probated.Trusts don't.Probate is mostly simple stuff. A probate case may have a minimum time that it must be open to allow potential creditors of the deceased to present claims against the estate. In a trust, the trust owners (the grantors, trustors, or settlors) transfer their assets into the name of the trust. After they sign the trust document, they fund the trust (transfer their assets into the trust name). Typically real estate is deeded into the name of the trust using a quit claim deed. Bank accts are either put into the name of the trust or may pay on death to the trust. Life insurance is transferred by naming the trust as the beneficiary. Tax deferred accts like IRAs may have the trust as the primary or contingent beneficiary. The idea is to have the XYZ Trust own all of XYZ couple's assets. That way, at the death of the XYZs, there is nothing left in their individual names for the probate court to administer. When they died, the trust document kicks in. The trust says who takes over at their death to carry out their instructions on who gets what and when. The trustee merely has to show proof that they are dead and show the trust to prove who is the trustee. In a revocable trust, the trust owners have full rights to all trust assets during their lifetime. They can sell, give them away, mortgage them, etc. A trust is a death planning device. Trustees have legal responsibilities to the beneficiaries. Trustees cannot, in most cases, change the terms of the trust in the way that grantors can. They can only follow the instructions of the grantors. Trustees cannot do anything risky with the trust assets. The above is referring to a simple trust for the normal family situation, called a revocable grantor trust by the IRS, often called a living trust. You "must" have a trust if you are leaving assets to:minorsdisabled beneficiariesspendthriftsgay couples/unmarried couplesblended familiesseparated coupleslarge estatesdisability -- a trust voids the need for adult guardianship and conservatorship. The trust has language that defines when a person is considered incapacitated, and when that occurs, the alternate or successor trustee immediately steps in and begins managing the assets of the trust owner. When combined with medical directives and power of attorney, there is no need for a court-supervised guardianship and conservatorship.