Naperville Estate Planning Attorney on the Advantages of a Revocable Living Trust

living trust, revocable living trust, Naperville Estate Planning AttorneyAs an estate planning lawyer, I understand how difficult it can be to consider what will happen after your death. A large number of my clients express that exact concern, but bravely and responsibly take the necessary steps to provide security for their families. Without proper preparation, the court may assume control over your assets and property, regardless of your wishes and those of your surviving family members. It important to keep in mind, however, that some parts of the estate planning process can actually become effective before your death, allowing you to maintain even more direct control over your estate.

Most people are familiar with concept of a will. As an instrument of estate planning, a will can be used to formally establish your wishes regarding the allocation of your assets and property. You may choose to include or exclude certain details, as needed by your situation, including guardianship of minor children, for example. Your will should appoint an executor for your estate to ensure your affairs are in order and that your stated wishes regarding your estate are carried out. In many cases, however, a will is not sufficient or preferred and some individuals will elect to utilize a revocable living trust.

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

As opposed to a will, which can only be executed upon your death, a revocable living trust can be used to legally transfer ownership of property to one or more “trustees.” The transfer can occur while you are still living, and because you are eligible to remain a trustee for the purposes of living trust, you can maintain control over your property during your lifetime. The terms of your trust will most likely include a mechanism for transferring your ownership to other trustees upon your death, but unlike a will, this process does not require probate or the intervention of the court in most cases.

Potential Living Trust Advantages

When a will goes through probate, your affairs become a matter of public record. Anyone with even a passing interest in the financial situation of your beneficiaries may be able to access probate records without your permission. A living trust, on the other hand, is a much more private arrangement. Very few situations require a living trust to become public record, allowing for a more discrete handling of your wishes.

Since a living trust can be become effective immediately, it can potentially include your instructions in the event you become incapacitated. In this sense, a living trust may grant similar authority as a power of attorney. A will has no bearing on anything that occurs during your lifetime, so absent other planning instruments, your mental or physical incapacity may cause a court to become involved despite your properly drafted will.

Finally, perhaps the most important advantage of a revocable living trust is that it can be altered or dissolved any time you wish for the rest of your life. You may modify the included assets, your trustees, and any other terms at your discretion. As your financial and family situation evolves, your revocable living trust can do the same. In most cases, a living trust only becomes irrevocable—meaning it cannot be changed—upon your death.

Consult with a Professional

While a revocable living trust may offer a number of potential advantages, it may not be necessary or appropriate for your situation. Contact an experienced Naperville estate planning attorney to discuss your options. We will help you understand the planning solutions available to you and which of them may best suit your particular needs. We look forward to helping you secure your family’s future.