You may have heard of living trusts and perhaps thought they were only for very high-asset or complex estates. However, revocable living trusts are becoming an increasingly common estate planning tool for people who just want to make things easier for their families after they pass away.
A revocable living trust (often just referred to as a living trust since this is the most common type) allows assets to stay in your control during your lifetime. Those assets then easily pass on to your heirs and beneficiaries when you’re gone.
What do people typically include in a living trust?
You can place just about anything in a living trust. Legal professionals refer to that process as “funding” your trust. People typically include things like:
- Their home and other real estate
- Bank and investment accounts
- Cars and other vehicles
- Intellectual property, mining rights and other “virtual” assets
There’s no change in your ability to carry out transactions involving the assets in your living trust. You can still buy or sell new assets, like a new home or car; however, you need to remember to title that asset with the trust’s information instead of yours.
You’ll need to name a trustee to take over the living trust after you die to ensure that the assets in it go to your designated heirs and beneficiaries. That person may be the same person you name as the personal representative of your estate.
What a living trust does for your family
A living trust typically doesn’t have to go through probate. That may give way to a more efficient settlement of your estate. It also means less chance of anyone challenging it since you set up the trust while you were alive and well and perhaps had it for many years. Further, you’re able to protect your family and estate’s privacy by not having to go through probate.
Your estate planning attorney can explain more about how a living trust might fit in with your estate planning goals. If you choose to have a living trust, your attorney can also provide guidance as you title or retitle assets you use to fund your trust.