What is a Revocable Living Trust and is It Right for Me?
By Zachary Mushkatel on March 19, 2014
For most people in Arizona, a Last Will and Testament is probably the first choice for passing an estate on to heirs. However, depending on the diversity of your assets, you may decide to form a revocable living trust to take advantage of its before and after death benefits.
As always, it is advisable that you seek a qualified attorney at Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, in Phoenix to discuss what is best for you when it comes to estate planning options.
So, what are the advantages of a living trust as opposed to a will?
First , setting up a revocable living trust is one of several ways to avoid probate, which is a legal process that takes place after a person dies to prove the validity of a will. If a will goes to probate, you may be looking at court fees and additional attorney fees that will be paid directly from estate property and assets that might otherwise have gone to heirs.
Both a living trust and a will contain inheritance instructions, however, a trust involves three primary roles: you, the trustees who agree to manage your assets, and the beneficiaries. A “revocable” living trust basically gives you the option to change or dissolve the trust at any time for any reason as long as you are deemed mentally competent. A revocable living trust becomes “irrevocable” once you have died.
While you are alive, you may want to name yourself or your spouse as a trustee to assure that you have full control of your property and assets and, therefore, have the option to do whatever you want with them. You may name your children as successor trustees, but if you are not confident they will distribute your assets as you intend, then you can name a third party such as a trust department of a bank, a professional trust company, or a private fiduciary as a trustee following your death.
While a will deals with instructions for distributing your assets after death, a living trust offers mechanisms to manage your property before and after death. If you are disabled or cannot manage your financial affairs, then your successor trustee can be assigned to make those decisions. Also, since a living trust is not subject to probate all provisions of the trust remain private until death. Following death, the trust is typically only seen by the trustees, beneficiaries or other interested parties as defined by law.
As stated earlier, a living trust is not always the best tool for estate planning. They typically cost more to create than a will and your estate planning needs may not warrant a living trust. However, you should always seek a knowledgeable attorney when deciding which option is most advantageous for you and your heirs.
If you have questions about wills versus living trusts the estate planning lawyers at Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, are always available to discuss your options and provide the legal services you need.
If you have any questions concerning your rights under family law, please call us at (623) 889-0691 or contact us online today.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.