Have you researched estate planning recently? If so, you’ve probably become aware of Living Trusts, also known as Revocable Trusts. You may be familiar with some elements and helpful attributes that Living Trusts have to offer, as well as their value as a probate avoidance tool or a method to reduce taxes. Yet many estate planning articles fail to address a few of the aspects of estate planning that our attorneys find most important to our clients, namely, passing down your family’s legacy to the next generation. The Law Offices of Cheryl David understands the importance of tailoring your comprehensive estate plan to your family’s needs. For this reason, we have prepared the following synopsis regarding how a Living Trust can benefit your family.
What is a Living Trust?
A Living Trust, or Revocable Trust, creates a legal entity that stands separate from you and your estate. Living Trusts differ from Wills in that Living Trusts do not require verification by the court after you pass away. Rather than relying on the court or an executor to distribute your assets, a Living Trust allows your Trustee to pass on money and property directly to your heirs – without court intervention. This means that your Living Trust keeps your selected representative, not the courts, in control of your family’s legacy. Living Trusts are flexible in terms of adding special provisions that help you preserve your assets and sustain your family as you see fit.
A useful feature of Living Trusts is that they’re relatively straightforward to modify, and unlike wills they work in different states. With a Living Trust, you can update your Trust documents throughout your life. You have full authority to change your Trust, and after you pass away the successor Trustee you appoint can oversee the continuation of your wishes. Conversely, Wills provide little continuity for your estate after you pass away.
Why should my family utilize a Living Trust?
If you are interested in safeguarding your family’s future, including supporting individual family members according to their unique needs, a Living Trust is one of the primary legal tools available to facilitate your goals. Your Living Trust includes an Estate Planning Letter, which allows you to document family principles into your estate plan.
Do you have minor children or grandchildren? If so, you understand the importance of teaching them good money management skills over time, thereby ensuring that your family’s assets survive intact. Your Living Trust will enable you to benefit your child or grandchild as they grow, while holding back full control of the assets you may decide to leave them until they reach a certain age. The adaptable nature of Living Trusts also means that you can stipulate when, how, and for what purpose your loved one has access to assets.
Unfortunately, many families have adult members who may not be particularly good at managing money. These children tend to overspend, fall prey to outside influences, or simply lack financial knowledge. In such cases, your Trust document can protect your estate from depletion. Certain “spendthrift” clauses can defend your assets against the reach of creditors and prevent your heirs from handing over their inheritance to other parties. Likewise, if you have a loved one with disability which qualifies for benefits, your Trust can arrange to pay for their care while keeping your assets safe. This special language is often referred to as a Special Needs Trust. Appointing a trustworthy Successor Trustee can also go a long way in sheltering your estate from losses.
Will a Living Trust help me avoid probate?
Creating a legally sound living Trust document remains one of the best ways of avoiding probate. Rather than requiring court involvement, your Living Trust document will enable your successor Trustee or Trustees to distribute your estate according to your written specifications.
Due to court fees and required appearances, the North Carolina probate process can be both financially and emotionally costly. In addition to the toll on your estate’s funds, your loved one serving as Executor will face a continual hardship. Your Living Trust can provide peace of mind about both your assets and your family’s well-being.
Having a Living Trust which is done by an experienced Estate Planner keeps your estate private and out of the public eye. It also removes difficulties that come with probate’s public nature. During probate proceedings, your affairs will be reviewed in court as a matter of public record. Your Living Trust can protect your family’s privacy by keeping your estate out of court, and may also shield some of your assets from creditors and other claims. Lastly, if you own property in two or more States, your Living Trust can help you avoid time-consuming and expensive multiple-state probate processes. Real estate is probated in each State where it is held if you die with a will. A properly constructed Trust will prevent multiple out-of-state probates
If I create a Living Trust, will I still control my assets?
Yes. As long as you are alive and competent, you will have control over all the assets and properties that you have titled in the name of your Trust. In the case of your incompetency or death, the successor Trustee or Trustees who you name will have the authority to continue administering your trust exactly as you planned. In contrast to Wills, Living Trusts are more resistant against contests due to their language, organization, and structure.
Can The Law Offices of Cheryl David prepare my Living Trust?
Yes! The Law Offices of Cheryl David can walk you through the estate planning process from start to finish. Our trusted attorneys serve clients and families just like yours on a daily basis, and are available for consultations if you wish to determine whether creating a Living Trust is right for you. Our attorneys will listen carefully to your family’s situation, and will assess which estate planning tools may be in your best interest. Then, it’s up to you to decide how you will provide for your family both now and in the future.
For an appointment to discuss your comprehensive estate planning needs, or to attend an upcoming seminar, please call our offices at (336) 547-9999 or email [email protected].