The living trust is one estate planning document that many people do not understand. There is a common misperception that trusts are the exclusive province of the ultra-wealthy. However, individuals with many different sizes and types of estates have discovered that incorporating a living trust into their estate plan accomplishes their estate planning goals. Read on to learn more about living trusts so that you can decide whether you would like to include a living trust in your estate plan.
Living trusts are a highly flexible and customizable estate planning tool. For example, they are available to both single and married people – you can set up either an individual trust or a joint trust. You can include any types of assets that you want to in your living trust, from cash, stocks, and bonds, to pets, vehicle titles, real estate, antiques, and anything else you can imagine. When you create a living trust, you may choose whether to make it a revocable living trust that you can change at any time or an irrevocable living trust that can only be altered with the permission of everyone in the trust. Additionally, you can choose whether you would like to act as the trustee of your trust during your lifetime with a successor trustee to take over trust administration after your death. Alternatively, you can appoint a trustee and one or more alternate trustees to begin administering the trust now, or at some other time of your choosing.
When you create a living trust, you can specify how the trustees are to manage the assets in the trust, including, among other things, who will take possession of which items in the trust and when. Conditional gifts are a common part of many trusts. For example, you might have two vehicles that you place in your trust, each of which is to be given to a specific grandchild when they earn their driver’s license. You can decide whether you would like one or more conditional gifts to be part of your living trust or whether you want your trustee to distribute each item in your trust to the designated beneficiary upon the event of your passing.
Your estate planning attorney can assist you in creating the trust document, signing it, and funding it. A trust must be signed and notarized for it to be valid, and estate planning attorneys are skilled at creating effective trust documents for their clients. Your estate planning attorney can also help you know heather having a living trust, a will, or both is the best way to accomplish your estate planning goals because you can have both as part of your estate plan if you so choose.
If you are interested in learning more about living trusts or any other estate planning tool, arrange a consultation with the law office of J. Joseph Weber, P.A., by calling (316) 265-7802. You can also reach us online. Our office in Wichita is open on weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.