The legal device that is called a revocable living trust can be a very useful estate planning tool if you want to arrange for efficient postmortem asset transfers. The last will is looked upon as the simplest estate planning tool by many laypeople, but in fact, things can be rather complicated when you use a will.
When you know the facts, you may come to the conclusion that a revocable living trust will serve your family better.
One thing that you should understand about a last will is that it must be admitted to probate after you pass away. This is the legal process of estate administration. The probate court supervises the administration of the estate.
Probate is time-consuming, taking close to a year in simple cases. The surviving family members do not receive their inheritances while the process is underway, so this is one of the drawbacks.
The process of probate can be expensive, and it is also a public proceeding that opens the door for disgruntled individuals who may want to challenge the estate.
If you use a living trust rather than a last will as a vehicle of asset transfer, the trustee that you name in the document could distribute assets to the beneficiaries outside of probate.
Choice of Trustee
Whom should you choose as the trustee of your revocable living trust? Actually, while you are alive and well, you can act as the trustee. Many people would see this as an advantage, because you control the actions of the trust.
You name a successor trustee to assume this role after you pass away. It would also be possible to empower the successor trustee to administer the trust in the event of your incapacitation, and this is another benefit that you get when you create a revocable living trust.
Any adult who is of sound mind who is willing to act as the trustee can technically serve as a living trust trustee. If you are going to use someone that you know, you would want to make sure that the person has a good bit of financial acumen. Knowledge of the probate process would also be a plus.
The longevity of the trustee is another consideration, because the trust could remain in existence for an extended period of time.
Since you may not know anyone who is truly qualified to act as the successor trustee, you could use a corporate trustee such as the trust department of a bank or a trust company. When you use a professional fiduciary there is corporate oversight, and you know that the trust will be administered in accordance with industry standards.
Living Trust Report
To learn more about living trusts and the role of the trustee, download our special report. The report is free to our readers, and you can access your copy through this page: Grand Forks ND Living Trusts.
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