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Seven Things You Need to Know About Living Trusts [part I]

Weber Law Aug. 23, 2014

While a last will and testament might be the most commonly used instrument for passing of a legacy to family and other loved ones, there are other estate planning tools that can provide advantages depending on your situation.  Revocable living trusts increasingly offer the instrument of choice for many baby boomers.  This form of estate planning tool includes both pre-death and after-death benefits.  The best strategy for determining whether a revocable living trust should be a part of your estate plan would be to schedule a consultation with an experienced Wichita estate planning lawyer.  This two-part blog post highlights seven important things you should know about revocable living trusts.

What are the characteristics of a revocable living trust?

In the simplest terms, a trust is a legal relationship created pursuant to a trust agreement appointing a trustee to manage the property placed in the trust for the benefit of beneficiaries.  This form of trust can have many features and provisions.  Further, the individual who creates the trust can be the trustee depending on the objectives and design of the trust.  The trust is referred to as a “living trust” if the agreement establishes the trust during the lifetime of the trust maker.  This form of estate planning tool also offers the advantage of permitting the trust maker to modify or terminate the trust.

How does a living trust compare to a last will and testament?

While both documents indicate how the assets that comprise an estate are transferred to family and others, they do so in very different ways.  While a will must be administered by opening probate proceedings, which are a matter of public record, a revocable living trust permits the trust maker to avoid probate.  The terms of a revocable living also can be kept private.  While trusts can offer advantages in terms of privacy and probate avoidance, a will can be less complicated and expensive if an individual has a relatively modest estate.

Do I need an estate planning attorney if I want to prepare a revocable living trust?

While it is possible to use a DIY trust kit, our Kansas estate planning law firm often see trusts that are poorly drafted, which clearly do not reflect the intentions of the decedent.  When a trust is not carefully drafted, loved ones can be unintentionally disinherited or left with insufficient financial resources to maintain their standard of living following the death of a breadwinner.  When non-attorneys prepare a revocable living trust, we also often see trusts that are never properly funded, which means that the assets might need to go through probate.  Since probate avoidance is one of the primary objectives of a revocable living trust, failing to fund the trust is a mistake that should never occur.

If you have questions about a revocable living trust, will or other estate planning instrument, we welcome the opportunity to talk to you and answer your questions.  We invite you to call the Weber Law Office or to submit an inquiry form through this website to schedule your initial consultation.