Before you become convinced that you should use a last will as your primary vehicle of asset transfer, you may want to consider the creation of a revocable living trust as an alternative. Popular to contrary belief, you do not have to be very wealthy to benefit from this type of trust.
When you create a revocable living trust, you maintain personal control of the assets. As the creator of the trust, you can act as the trustee initially, so you control the actions of the trust. You may also act as the beneficiary, so you can receive monetary distributions.
A trust declaration is created when you establish the trust. In this declaration, you name a successor trustee to administer the trust after your passing or in the event of your incapacitation. You would also name a successor beneficiary who would receive distributions after you pass away.
In this declaration, you can include terms that the trustee would be compelled to follow after you pass away. For example, if you wanted to make sure that the beneficiary did not burn through his or her inheritance too quickly, you could allow for limited monthly distributions over an extended period of time.
You are not bound to the original terms that you set forth in the trust declaration. It is possible to change the instructions with regard to the way you want the assets distributed after your passing. You can also change the trustee or add a co-trustee, and you can add or subtract beneficiaries.
If the changes that you want to make to the trust are relatively minor, you could add a document called an amendment. For more comprehensive changes, you could create a trust restatement.
As you can see, you do not lose control when you create a revocable living trust, and you have the power to change things along the way as you see fit.
In addition to the versatility and control, another major advantage that you gain when you use a living trust is the avoidance of probate. A will must be admitted to probate, and the heirs cannot receive their inheritances until the court has closed the estate. This can take somewhere around a year, even if the case is not complicated in any way.
Assets in a revocable living trust can be distributed to the beneficiary or beneficiaries in a more timely manner outside of probate.
If you would like to discuss your estate planning goals with a licensed professional, we would be glad to help. Our firm offers free consultations, and we value personal interactions with our clients.
To set up an appointment, send us a message through this page: Grand Forks ND Trust Attorneys.